Photo: Young mountain gorilla

Photograph courtesy Virunga National Park/ICCNN

About the Project

WildlifeDirect is a global online network that promotes conservation of Africa's parks and reserves by linking concerned conservationists and donors around the world with African conservationists and park workers. WildlifeDirect was conceived by paleontologist and conservationist Richard Leakey in January 2005 as a nonprofit conservation organization based in Kenya. It provides essential support for parks where and when it is needed most to ensure protected areas and wildlife are managed effectively.

WildlifeDirect was designed to maximize transparency and facilitate rapid response for conservation emergencies. How does it work? African conservationists write regularly about their efforts in online blogs. People around the world read the blogs, post comments, and get feedback. As readers become aware of the efforts, challenges, and achievements of African conservationists, they begin to donate online. Because of its low operating costs, WildlifeDirect is able to channel 100 percent of a donor's gift to conservation work on the ground. Donors know exactly what they are funding, funds are disbursed on the ground within days, and donors can immediately track the impact of their gift.

WildlifeDirect is the first conservation organization of its kind, and founders have high hopes for its outcomes. Its goals include creating an online community of millions of concerned people around the world who will support conservation where needed; developing a web site platform that gives a voice to conservationists at the front lines; and providing financial support to organizations in need that are working to protect national, local government, private, and community-owned wildlife parks and reserves.

WildlifeDirect.org was launched in October 2006 and was tested in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. Despite demanding conditions, results exceeded all expectations. Over $100,000 was raised in the first eight months of operation. With little investment, founders believe WildlifeDirect could be scaled up to produce significant developments for conservation in coming years.

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