{Around the Globe} Wildlife Works: Consumer Powered Conservation

Monday, May 20, 2013

This week we're taking a cyber trip through Africa: we'll meet an enterprising eco hero creating jobs + sustainable fashion, an adventurous blogger + photographer stealing hearts and creating magic with his lens, and we'll head over to an eco boutique with ethical looks you'll love. 

When I was in high school I learned that elephants are the only species of mammals other than humans to have a recognizable ritual around death. They grieve + cry out; they bury their dead + visit the grave sites of those who have passed on. I think this was the moment I fell in love with these sentient beings + majestic creatures. Then I learned that they can paint + pull pranks, and the deal was sealed.

Meet modern-day hero, animal activist + environmentalist Mike Korchinsky. Mike founded Wildlife Works in 1997 with a simple but powerful idea: to protect endangered + threatened wildlife by balancing the needs of the wildlife with the need for work in rural towns. 

Wildlife Works' mission is to harness the power of the global consumer to create innovative and sustainable solutions for wildlife conservation. Mike's strategy was to establish jobs that provide the community economic alternatives to destroying their forests + poaching animals for basic survival needs.

Wildlife Work's first proven project was a wildlife reserve in Kenya, the 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, which is now the heart of their 500,000 acre Kasigau Corridor REDD Project that protects an entire wildlife corridor between Tsavo East and West National Parks. 

This flagship wilderness project now employs over 300 employees that include rangers, land managers, seamstresses and greenhouse workers, all hired locally. At the base of the sanctuary Mike built an eco-factory to produce casual apparel. Wildlife Works' carbon neutral factory employs over 50 local women and 5 local men who produce an organic cotton fashion collection and other sustainable private label lines. 

Wildlife Works is also building schools, funding scholarships, improving agricultural practices, providing health care and adding to the betterment of the community as a whole. These jobs have radically changed the way the local community views wildlife: where there once was poaching of elephants, rhinos + dik diks, there is now a peaceful sanctuary, but the work is ongoing*. 

Over the last decade, countless families have risen out of poverty and unemployment. As a result, the local wildlife has been flourishing; elephants, one of the many protected inhabitants of the sanctuary, have been coming back at a rate of 2-4% each year. 
{read} to learn more about poaching* and to learn about the intrepid rangers + their wonderful work
{watch} how fashion + conservation come together
{snatch up} an organic, do-good graphic tee and other summertime staples that will add a little spice to your wardrobe + help endangered animals in the process, click right on over here. check out their clothes for small fries here.  

artwork by f+d {images via wildlife works}

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