Grant Fowlds describes himself as a conservationist and someone who loves elephants. It is therefore unsurprising that Fowlds is a trustee at the Human Elephant Foundation. He has joined the efforts of Andries Botha, David White and John Charter to raise funds for suitable projects and implementing organisations, specifically for elephant conservation in Africa.
South Africa has a crisis in that, in contrast to other African countries, we have too many elephants for the space allocated to them which results in human wildlife conflict. The consequences are that the elephants often raid crops or get into an area where either a human or an elephant is killed. In order to counter this problem, we have to create additional space, corridors or wildlife parks where elephants can live as well as ensure that these areas benefit the people living alongside them through conservation efforts.
“Through education we have to tell people that elephants are part of the big five, part of the mechanics of biodiversity and an asset. People don’t see that. We have to take marginal farm lands that were once under cultivation and rewild them and give elephants a reason to stay there,” says Fowlds.
While Fowlds says that there is not much space left, and much of this available space is incorrectly managed, he believes that a zone of safety for elephants can be created. The South African model only allows elephants to be kept once an elephant management plan is in place. This plan includes creating a fenced ecosystem that allows elephants to exist in harmony with people outside of the park. The role of the Human Elephant Foundation is to try and create these spaces.
One of the spaces that the Human Elephant Foundation has invested in is Loziba Game Reserve. The founders’ primary mission is to create a 30,000 - 40 000 Ha game reserve that will not only become a safe new home for elephants, but will also include a number of other endangered species including black rhino, cheetah, pangolin and lion.
Once complete the reserve intends having a number of lodges and camps developed through private investment, which will then attract both local and foreign visitors to visit Loziba to experience its incredible and unique biodiversity as well as the big five.
Together with Graham Spence, Grant wrote, Saving the Last Rhinos: The Life of a Frontline Conservationist in 2019. The follow-up Rewilding Africa: Restoring the Wilderness on a War-Ravaged Continent, was released in 2022.
For more information visit www.humanelephant.org.za