Africa Matters promotes wildlife conservation by encouraging the interaction of artists, teachers and scientists. They provide direct financial and logistical assistance to individuals and organizations whose work not only expands scientific knowledge from the field, but also makes that knowledge available to others, particularly young Africans.
Africa Matters believes that art and youth have a key role to play in the world of conservation.
People and the Natural World
The conflict between wildlife and humans over diminishing resources is a problem throughout the African continent. As the human population grows and people need more food, water and land, the challenges for wildlife and the environment increase, leading to problems such as habitat degradation, poaching, and the spread of disease from domestic animals to wildlife. These problems are particularly acute in countries like Zimbabwe which face economic difficulties. A lack of education and limited awareness of conservation issues is also a large part of the problem - but local people must be a part of the solution.
Africa Matters provides support for Ingonyama Drama and Dance Group, performers who use their considerable talent as dancers, singers, and actors to educate and entertain school children in rural areas about their own natural resources. Ingonyama promotes the care and preservation of wildlife through exciting Conservation Education Workshops that include song, dance, drama, animal imitations and interpretive nature video programs. The group also performs at lodges, hotels, safari camps and festivals to spread their message about wildlife and conservation.
Africa Matters’ Scholarship Fund invests in education by supporting individual students, paying school fees for children whose families cannot afford to send them to school.The Food for Thought program helps children learn more effectively (and encourages attendance) by providing a hot lunch program for primary school students.
Art for Conservation
Africa Matters is instrumental in working with Painted Dog Conservation to support Ingonyana Arts center, where local artists create pieces with conservation in mind, including animals made of snare wire collected by an anti-poaching unit. Sales from Ingonyana Arts bring immediate financial benefit to artisans, who are provided with materials and equipment, a place to work, and training when needed. Artists see tangible benefits from tourism and international interest in their local wildlife, which inspires them to protect it. An equally important goal of the arts center is teaching conservation through the sustainable use of natural resources during the selection of artistic products. The materials used to make art projects are approximately 70 percent recycled. The arts center also educates foreign tourists and local residents about the precarious status of the painted dog in Africa, specifically in Zimbabwe.
Grants and Fundraising
Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Grant has provided funds for Africa Matters and the Zoo has hosted the group’s African Bush Dinner fundraiser.
Gift Shop Sales
Oakland Zoo’s gift shop sells crafts made by the artisans who work with Africa Matters.
Outreach and Education
Oakland Zoo connects to our public through docent tours and stations, special events and a variety of outreach and education programs with messages about human-wildlife conflict issues and solutions, the bushmeat crisis, habitat loss, and other issues facing African countries.