Bush Babies of Africa. May 20, 2014
Conserving South Africa wildlife with art
Story by Kathryn R. Burke
Yvonne Reed established ‘Bush Babies of Africa: Wildlife Art’ in 1995. Born in South Africa, and with a lifetime interest in wildlife conservation, Reed’s goal is to help raise money to support South African wildlife artists whose work promotes African wildlife conservation.
Reed is aligned with Peace Parks, a ‘Trans-frontier’ conservation effort originally founded by Anton Rupert, Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, and Dr. Nelson Mandela. It was the vision of these men to drop fences and establish ‘elephant corridors’ across Africa. The concept of a trans-border protected area cooperation through the establishment of peace parks had already been accepted internationally. Over 70 protected areas in 65 countries which straddle national frontiers were identified by 1988.
Reed’s personal passion is the Kaza Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). According to the KAZA website: “The KAZA TFCA is an important flagship project, as it combines several exemplary goals: conservation of nature with sustainable economic development and political stabilization.” Five countries, all home to ancient wildlife corridors, are partners in this project. The Kaza is home to Africa’s ‘big five:’ elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and lion. All of them roam across international borders. Other rare and endangered species in the Park TFCA include cheetah, black rhino, African wild dog, sable and roan antelope, and more.
Reed was born on a South African farm, still owned by her family and occupied by their ‘African family.’ In Africa, a particular tribe may determine their spirits live in a specific location, and move there to reside with their spiritual family. The African family who moved onto Reed’s family farm was headed by ‘Old Sam’ whose descendants still live and work there today, caring for the property in Reed’s absence. She and her late husband lived and worked there for 13 years. The next 13 years characterized by severe drought – “a whole other story,’ Reed decrees – she worked the farm alone, widowed, with the help of her South African family.
Then, despairing of heat and desiring cold and wet, she treated herself to a ski trip to Switzerland, where she met her present husband Donald Reed, a retired engineer with Exon Mobile. They traveled the world together, for his job of course, but for her, it was an opportunity to educate the world about South Africa and increase awareness of how to protect endangered African species. Reed made it her life’s purpose to share her passion for South African wildlife conservation.
Today, Reed contributes to the cause by promoting South African art as a fundraiser for the Peace Parks. The wonderful artists she works with can be viewed on her website, Bush Babies of Africa Artwork. All of the art is for sale. Each art purchase raises funds for the many Peace Park projects. http://www.peaceparks.org. Reed will be sharing information about the KAZA project and the Peace Park when she visits with us on May 20.
National Geographic, August 2014. ‘100,000 Elephants Killed by Poachers in Just Three Years, Landmark Analysis Finds. Central Africa has lost 64 percent of its elephants in a decade.‘