The Great Plains Conservation Concept
Great Plains Conservation, our commercial arm, strives to secure African landscapes of a scale large enough to also protect its resident and seasonal wildlife populations. In that effort, we identify and select key areas that are under threat, often next to national parks and reserves, and acquire the rights to convert that land to protected areas with economic benefits. For example, we convert hunting land or agricultural land to wildlife conservation supported by photographic tourism. The overarching theory is that without large protected landscapes where migration routes are maintained, then wildlife will not stand a chance of survival. Small islands of conservation are simply not adequate for sustaining viable breeding populations of most species. Our collection of very light footprint safari camps operate on most tracts of these lands; however, not every piece of land needs to or can pay for itself, and some pieces with camps support other pieces without. This model only works if it is self-sustaining. We presently lease and operate safaris on approximately 1,000,000 acres and hope to expand to 5,000,000 in the next five to ten years. Tourism at this level has the benefit of not only generating much needed revenue to acquire and steward the land, but also creating global ambassadors for wildlife and its conservation.
Great Plains Conservation is also quite unique in that our shareholders have all agreed to never take a dividend from the Company but to recycle any profits into the business or into the Great Plains Foundation.
The Great Plains Foundation
Great Plains Foundation is a licensed (US) non-profit entity. The Foundation takes on a parallel but distinct role from the Company. Here, we are more project and species focused, and funded by donations as opposed to investments. If Great Plains Conservation acquires the land, then the Foundation finds projects that will rehabilitate, enhance and save its wildlife.
Statement by the Chairman, Dereck Joubert
“Let there be no mistake, we are in the midst of the Battle for Africa right now. Every nine hours another rhino is killed in South Africa alone. We lose five elephants an hour across Africa. In the last 50 years we have managed to lose 95% of our lions and leopards. At this rate, we can expect extinctions of lions in the next 10 to 15 years. As Hilary Clinton so carefully pointed out in a speech last year, the bushmeat and illegal animal trade now rivals the drug trade in its scale, garnering $27 billion in trade a year. And yet, if we take the initiative right now and urgently, we can stop this from being a global disaster. We founded the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic specifically to focus attention, funding and action on lions, cheetah and leopards in Africa, and that is progressing well. There are a lot of dedicated and smart people with whom we are engaging to tackle a range of action points with 43 projects in 18 countries. Arguably, the most pressing issue for African wildlife is poaching. It goes to follow that if we are strategically acquiring large pieces of land to conserve then we also need to secure that land and its wildlife against poaching. The greatest need now, is what I call “The Battle for Africa,” and it will ultimately involve three species: lions, rhinos, and elephants. If we save those we have a hope. And if we don’t, everything else will go. We’re not going to let that happen on our watch.