It must be owned and driven by Africans;
The School of Wildlife Conservation was founded in 2016 on the belief that to truly improve wildlife conservation in Africa:
Today, most African communities do not see wildlife as an asset that they “own”; and strong African voices are largely excluded from the conservation agenda. We believe that unless African communities feel ownership of wildlife and the natural environment, they will have little incentive to conserve it. Given the continent’s demographics (the average age of an African is 19.5), we need to bring in younger, talented Africans and more women into the room. We need to change the narrative and engender new champions for conservation.
We must focus on benefiting people, not just nature
Given the high poverty and unemployment levels in Africa, conservation cannot simply be a luxury ‘for nature’s sake’. We need to redefine nature as a great pillar of economic growth–for the benefit of the people of Africa. This is why we focus on infusing business skills into conservation leaders so that they can create jobs and income for communities. Conservation leaders of the future must invent business models that leverage this unique competitive advantage–our biodiversity–to drive economic development in Africa.
Leadership and management skills are more essential than ever.
Given that conservation issues are increasingly more about economics, politics and power we need to bring dynamic, ethical and effective leaders into the sector. The School of Wildlife Conservation is dedicated to infusing managerial and leadership skills into Africa’s top conservation talent. Thereby preparing them to drive more effective government policies and to manage the incredible complexities of conservation.
About the ALU School of Wildlife Conservation
The ALU School of Wildlife Conservation is the first of its kind on the continent, dedicated to growing the next generation of world class conservation leaders in Africa. The continent needs home grown African leaders to spearhead new and innovative approaches in the business of conservation. The approach of the school is unique, teaching much needed business and leadership skills and exposing students to real-world experience, to ensure economic development and long term sustainability of our animals, our land, and our communities. The school identifies, educates and connects these leaders to existing conservationists across the continent through a Conservation specialization in our Global Challenges undergraduate degree, our graduate Conservation MBA program, and our middle management training courses.
As a result of this school, 100% of the 3 million African leaders ALU will produce by 2060 will be exposed to the basics of conservation education, with the expectation that a significant subset of these leaders will focus on conservation as their life’s mission and ultimately engage in conservation efforts on the continent. This will ensure that the most talented and influential African leaders of the future will all understand the vital importance of conserving Africa’s wildlife. In addition, thousands of professionals who are currently engaged in conservation efforts will be upskilled through short courses and executive education to become more effective and ethical stewards of nature. Particular emphasis will be given to how conservation can economically benefit African communities, thereby providing a powerful incentive to conserve one of Africa’s most precious assets, our wildlife and their habitats.
Launched in late 2016, the school has ~100 students focused on conservation across ALU’s undergraduate, MBA and ALX middle manager training programs. Our undergraduates have interned at several leading organisations including Ol Pejeta conservancy, Ecoplanet Bamboo and Rwanda Development Board. Ongoing projects from the undergraduate and MBA cohorts include a land conservation fund, a conservation hub, a bee hive monitoring initiative and sustainable architecture. Over 50 professionals have signed up as guest speakers for the school and another 10 are in the Conservationist in Residence programme spending 2 – 4 weeks on campus with students.
A citizen of Ghana, Fred Swaniker grew up in Botswana and Zimbabwe, both countries blessed with wildlife. However, like the majority of his peers, his family could never afford to visit the high-end game reserves in these countries. He vividly remembers during his college years in the United States that his peers would ask him if he had seen a lion or an elephant. He would uncomfortably respond that he had indeed seen such animals–but in a zoo! It was only when Fred returned to Africa–this time to South Africa–that he had the opportunity to visit the Kruger National Park. He was immediately awestruck by the wildlife and breathtaking landscapes he experienced in the bush, and vowed that he would find a way to ensure that future generations of Africans would also be able enjoy such incredible experiences. He also realized that unless Africa’s wildlife became an ‘African asset’–something that all Africans–not only wealthy foreign tourists could see the benefits of–African communities would have no incentives to conserve habitat and wildlife. Years later, when Fred founded African Leadership University, he saw it as a vehicle to address the ‘Grand Challenges’ and ‘Great Opportunities’ that Africa would encounter over the next 50 years. The conservation of Africa’s wildlife was high on his list of African opportunities and Fred envisioned a school within the university that would develop leaders for conservation. But his wish would remain a dream until he reconnected with his longtime friend, financial backer, and philanthropist Jennifer Oppenheimer in mid-2016. As it turned out, Jennifer had been thinking along the same lines as Fred…
In Memoriam of Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer
Life-long philanthropist and conservationist
A seed funder for African Leadership University, the late Jennifer (Fern) W. Oppenheimer was instrumental in the establishment of the pan-African university in 2013. Three years later–in mid 2016–Jennifer approached the University’s founder, Fred Swaniker, with an idea to create a new generation of African leaders who would lead efforts to safeguard Africa’s natural resources and wildlife. Her vision, shared by ALU, was to ensure that Africa’s wildlife becomes a truly valuable ‘asset’ that is enjoyed by Africans and the world, and that contributes to the sustainable development of Africa. Jennifer subsequently provided seed funding to enable the establishment of the ALU School of Wildlife Conservation.
ALU is a network of world-class tertiary education institutions whose mission is to produce 3 million young African leaders over the next 50 years. ALU’s first campus was inaugurated in September 2015 in Mauritius and is known as African Leadership College. It’s second campus was inaugurated in September 2017 in Kigali Heights, Rwanda.