Conservation Heroes: VULNERABLE - A Serious Word


Chris Koenemann


Repeat Wilderness Safaris guest, Chris Koenemann is not only passionate about Africa and its wildlife but also its people, many of whom were hit hard by the pandemic. Chris reached out to us to make a donation in support of Conservation Heroes and the communities we support. Now she appeals to others to do the same and help those who are vulnerable.

Awake at 05h30 for early morning tea, 06h00 we leave camp. Into another wonderful sunrise, another breathtaking game drive. In the glorious morning light, we bump into a large breeding herd of elephants. But most exciting of all is that a little baby ellie, full of mud, is hiding under its mother.

So well protected. It strikes my heart just how VULNERABLE it is without the shelter of the herd.

Although they seem to be everywhere, impalas are the beauties of the day. One impala defends his harem, and the young mummies gather round to protect their newborns. How delicate they are. How VULNERABLE without the herd.

To more than 1.5 million wildebeest it is part of their survival plan to give birth at about the same time in Ndutu, Tanzania. These newborn, fragile creatures on their long flimsy legs endure great suffering to keep pace with the annual migration. But they have to to get the best possible protection against predators. How VULNERABLE this tiny wildebeest is without the shelter of the herd.

How long and arduous is the road to transform from birth to Lion King! The young cub observing its strange environment, curious but wary, is lost without the pride. It could not even hunt on its own, much less defend itself against the enemies it has to face at its young age. And yet again –Baby Lion King is so VULNERABLE without the pride.

Experiencing countless of these magic moments makes me grateful and humble from the depths of my heart. Many times I have been welcomed by warmhearted people and their overwhelming hospitality, to feel at home.

Then in March 2020 COVID-19 rocked the world. Mine. Yours. Africa's. All over.

A new sense of the word VULNERABLE was born.

I wanted to help and reached out to the Managing Director of Wilderness Safaris Botswana, Kim Nixon, to find out how. .

Due to the worldwide COVID-19 - lockdown no tourists could get into the country. Lodges had to close, staff sent home. The lockdown was driving Botswana tourism to a standstill.

Amongst others, Wilderness Safaris felt responsible for the rural communities in their regions. Historically the communities have been heavily reliant upon the revenue and support brought by ecotourism. Within these far-flung and hard-to-get-to villages, each household usually has a minimum of six people, but can number in excess of 20. You could say “roughly one feeds ten“ – so with the loss of income due to COVID-19, food scarcity is unavoidable.

The meaning of VULNERABLE takes on a completely new dimension.

Wilderness Safaris took the initiative to organise food hampers containing maize, sugar, rice, sorghum etc., and made their way on heavy roads to the remotest communities to deliver relief to the most VULNERABLE in each village.

The word VULNERABLE appeared like a phantom. The food shortage shocked me deeply.

One food hamper feeds a family of four for one month, and costs USD 50. Wilderness distributes at its own cost, providing transport, fuel and staff.

Empathy and insight help us to understand the necessity for helping – and don't get me wrong, the bigger the donation the more we help. But a good number of small donations accumulates to a big one as well. That is my way of gaining donors – and as the nightmare COVID-19 is not over yet, we are helping every month with a good amount of Euro.

But don't worry: Wilderness has a US Dollar account.

I hope with all my African heart my words will awaken your sympathy, your memories, your compassion – and your generosity!

I understand times are not easy to ask for donations. All of us are facing insecure times. But I want to point out that supermarkets have remained open during the pandemic. USD 50 feeds a family for a month – and more importantly, we can bring the gift of hope to those less fortunate than ourseleves in these uncertain times.

Take care, stay healthy – and do not forget: there are many VULNERABLE needing the support and protection of the herd...

From my side a warm thank you for supporting!

If I could touch your heart and your generosity to donate, please indicate in the comments: food hampers OCT community

It is easy: – COVID-19 Relief efforts – scroll down to the photo with Our Conservation Heroes – see the two choices on how to donate.

Written and photographed by Chris Koenemann



Wilderness Safaris COVID Relief

The impact of COVID-19 in Africa has been profound – particularly on wildlife conservation and rural communities dependent on tourism. Please join us to support our Conservation Heroes. Together we are stronger, and together, we can continue to change lives. It only costs USD50 to feed a family for a month. Or USD5 000 to cover the monthly operations of an anti-poaching team. Every single contribution, no matter how big or small, makes a significant difference.  

To learn more about Wilderness Safaris COVID relief efforts, click here 

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