How a Few Adventurous Philanthropists Are Changing the Face of Conservation

  • Photo by Tom Parker
    Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
    The U.S. industrialist James Coleman helped fund a new tourism and conservation project in Chad’s Zakouma National Park, where rangers work in rivers rife with crocodiles Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
    Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
    A ranger hauls a tusk retrieved from an elephant poached in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
    The U.S. industrialist James Coleman helped fund a new tourism and conservation project in Chad’s Zakouma National Park, where rangers work in rivers rife with crocodiles Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
    On patrol in Virunga National Park, where Howard Buffett is helping to fund conservation efforts Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Photo by Tom Parker
  • Sophy Roberts


Jones, who was with me again, ventured that this relic forest might also sequester chimpanzees; at one time, he said, the chimps would have moved freely between these patches of forest, traveling all the way down this western swath of Tanzania. On the 2018 donor trip, which will include a tour of the Moyowosi forest and the Friedkin concessions, he plans to go searching to see if his theory holds true.

“We want to inspire our members with modest opportunities like Ntakata, and giant examples like the Friedkins,” Jones said. “Engaging in Africa is about understanding the bigger conservation mosaic. It is a complicated, textured world. For example, Moyowosi is a hunting area, but the Friedkins are also conservationists on a formidable scale. Not everyone can square the two. There are occasions when I can. All this needs to be discussed in the open with individuals who have enough of a passion for Africa to engage with the realities at the sharp end. The one thing everyone who signs up to Wild Philanthropy needs to understand is that conservation in this century is a dangerous and thankless task.”

Jones’s words proved prescient. On the same day I was in Gambella in January, the same R44 helicopter we’d flown in Moyowosi was shot out of the sky by elephant poachers—killing the pilot, Roger Gower, with whom I had worked 18 months prior. Thus I was reminded of another reality behind the wild-philanthropy trend at play: how giving is by no means a soft luxury. In modern Africa, it means engaging with the risk of paying the biggest price of all.  

African Parks (african-parks.org); Friedkin Conservation Fund (friedkinfund.org); Geographic Expeditions (geoex.com); Milton Group (paulmilton.com); Passage to Africa (passagetoafrica.com); Singita Grumeti (singita.com); The Tongwe Trust (tongwetrust.org); Wild Philanthropy Travel (wildphilanthropy.com)

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