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Charities in crisis: How can you provide a lifeline during Covid 19?

Rebecca Ward
By Rebecca Ward
12 May 2020
Indai - Dharavi education - Reality Gives.JPG

All of us around the world have been impacted by coronavirus but, as you can imagine, some communities and regions are faced with extremely bleak prospects. As the coronavirus pandemic halts tourism to Africa and Asia, charities that operate on the ground have never faced a more uncertain future.

Even though you cannot travel today and show your support in person, a donation to one or more our charity partners through our UK office or US charitable foundation, Explorations Plus, will enable vulnerable communities and wildlife to continue to be supported.

How important is tourism revenue to conservation and community support?

Charities rely heavily on tourism revenue to enable them to operate. A crippled tourism industry is leading to countless local job losses including community rangers that protect endangered wildlife. With no source of income, levels of poaching are increasing so that villagers can feed their families and make a living.

Furthermore, much-needed conservation research, education and healthcare programmes are at great risk of permanent closure. As demand for charity services increases, income is falling.


How can we all help charities during the coronavirus pandemic?

In response to these unprecedented challenges, we have selected six of our 42 charity partners that are in most need of your support to enable them to continue their vital work. These charities have not been selected according to own favouritism but instead those that scored highly through a matrix study. We assessed impact, including stakeholder reach, as well as financial need determined by their annual reporting and contact with us about their urgent funding priorities during this time.

In no specific order, these six charities are:

The Chimpanzee Trust and Sanctuary at Ngamba Island, Uganda

  • $18,000 / £15,000 will cover all operational costs for one month. This includes 38 staff salaries, insurance, medical supplies and procedures, sanctuary maintenance and field operations for the wild chimpanzee protection and habitat restoration programme.
  • $4,500 / £3,600 will buy fruits, vegetables, maize meal, millet flour, soya and eggs for 50 chimps for one month.
  • $2,400 / £2,000 will pay the annual salary of a caregiver.


COVID-19 has dealt a major blow to primate conservation. Facilities housing chimpanzees are a particular concern due to the animals’ established susceptibility to human respiratory diseases. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have disrupted chimpanzee food and medical supply lines, as well as forced some members of staff to stay home with their families.

Between February and June 2020, The Chimpanzee Trust and Sanctuary will have lost over 1,300 bookings. This translates to over $50,000 / £40,000 in lost revenue. Within the next couple of weeks, the Trust will have run out of funds in order to be able to operate, including the ability to feed the chimpanzees.


The Chimpanzee Trust and Sanctuary at Ngamba Island are pivotal in chimpanzee conservation. The Trust is a leader in chimpanzee-focused environmental conservation through research and surveys, the care and welfare of 50 rescued chimpanzees, increased public awareness of broader conservation issues as well as in engaging with communities living alongside chimpanzee populations.

Last financial year, the Trust implemented a project to conserve rivers within Bugoma Forest Reserve. Contracts were signed with 124 farmers who have committed 311 hectares of land (770 acres) for better land management. The Chimpanzee Trust have re-energised two community forest groups, training leaders in river water conservation. In collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the Trust also held 50 community awareness meetings in Kagadi and Hoima districts.


Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, Zambia

  • $22,000 / £18,000 will cover all operational costs for one month.
  • $5,000 / £4,000 could enable one Community Conservation Educator to run a daily programme of conservation programmes in schools and communities for a year.
  • $1,200 / £1,000 could pay for 15 students from 31 school conservation clubs to go on a field trip each year in South Luangwa National Park.


Chipembele’s wide range of programmes in South Luangwa, including conservation clubs and Community in Nature interactive outdoor education programmes, were suspended on 20 March in line with the Zambian Government’s directions to close all schools and universities.

However, as an education organisation, Community Conservation Educators have been helping to spread the message about COVID-19 in the community and how to minimise the risks of being infected by the disease. In the coming months, the charity’s focus is to secure the jobs of their staff and the future of Chipembele as an organisation, which was already in a precarious situation before the coronavirus pandemic.


As you will know, education is key to changing local attitudes towards wildlife conservation and protecting the environment. Last year, 640 children were taught by the Education team each week and more than 7,000 people attended community education sessions.

Two students whose education was supported by Chipembele include Thandiwe Mweetwa, a biologist working to protect large carnivores with one of our other charity partners, Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP), as well as filmmaker Samson Moyo who produced a three-minute video for Chipembele.


Local Ocean Conservation, Kenya

  • $15,000 / £12,000 will cover all operation costs for one month. This includes 35 staff salaries, the rehabilitation centre as well as the by-catch release and anti-poaching programmes.
  • $5,000 / £4,000 could provide a four-year scholarship for one marine scout.
  • $1,200 / £1,000 could enable 12 anti-poaching patrols, conducted by two LOC patrol team members.


A large percentage of donations to Local Ocean Conservation (LOC) are derived from tourism-related efforts, such as private individuals visiting projects during their safari to Kenya, as well as their volunteer program.

Therefore, COVID-19 is having a significant impact on available funds to carry out its work in order to protect the marine environment, and in particular, to protect sea turtles from poaching. As a result of job losses, there has been a massive influx of new persons now participating in fishing (legal and illegal) activities.

Today, sea turtles worldwide are threatened with extinction. Only one in 1,000 hatchlings are estimated to survive to adulthood. Threats include illegal poaching for their meat, oil and shells; the ingestion of marine debris, including plastics mistaken for jellyfish, as well as entanglement in nets.


LOC, which is based in Watamu, is committed to marine conservation and community development. LOC develops and implements sustainable marine resource management models, utilising sea turtles as a flagship species for local ocean health. LOC conducts practical conservation efforts as well as encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources through local community-run interventions.

Last year, 327 nests were monitored and protected. Furthermore, more than 1,500 turtles were rescued through a Bycatch Release Programme, more than 9,000 mangrove seedlings were planted and 67 anti-poaching patrols were carried out.


Painted Dog Conservation, Zimbabwe

  • $10,000 / £8,000 will cover one month of anti-poaching operations.
  • $5,000 / £4,000 could pay for annual maintenance of the rehabilitation facility.
  • $1,200 / £1,000 could support chief tracker Jealous in the field monitoring painted dogs for a month.


In mid-March 2020, Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), which operates in a critical tourism area, began cutting back on PDC operations, specifically the Children’s Bush Camp and community outreach programmes. Anti-poaching is their front line of protection for the painted dogs and they are trying hard to maintain this presence as a vital programme. A greater number of endangered dogs are at risk of being injured or killed than ever before as a result of being caught in snares set for other wildlife species. 

The African painted dog (also known as the wild dog) is red-listed as endangered with a declining population trend. It is estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 left, restricted to a few isolated areas in 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe, there are thought to be 700 painted dogs.


Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park in the Middle Zambezi Valley are two of the last strongholds for painted dogs in the country. Last year, it was estimated that there were more than 400 painted dogs within these areas: 193 adults in 32 packs in Hwange and 229 adults in 24 packs in the Mid- Zambezi including Mana Pools. 

Conservation, education and community engagement are important elements of PDC’s work and 67 people are employed from the local villages. Conservation efforts include a dedicated anti-poaching unit, a rehabilitation facility for treating injured and orphaned painted dogs before returning them to the wild as well as daily monitoring of packs, which includes data collection from radio collars to understand ranging behaviour and screening for disease through the capture and analysis of DNA samples.


Mayamiko Trust, Malawi

  • $3,000 / £2,500 will enable 1,200 masks to be made a month (300 masks can be made a week for $2.50 / £2.00 per mask, which includes materials and labour).

Mayamiko’s production of clothing and sanitary pads has been diverted to making face masks. These masks are being donated to the Ministry of Health and other partners, prioritising the elderly and vulnerable. There is widespread consensus that masks can play an important role in preventing the spread of the virus, mostly in two ways: when people have the virus, it reduces the chances of them spreading it to others and it also actively reminds and stops people from touching their own face which is the most common mode of contagion.


Mayamiko is in contact with public health authorities as needs evolve and they will adjust to what is needed, whether that be masks, scrubs or eye covers. As well as the masks, Mayamiko are working to spread awareness and education using digital technology and community building. Mayamiko has pulled together a whole set of resources to download from their website, including mask-making tutorials, flashcards and leaflets. 

Mayamiko Trust provides women with education, education, skills training and access to finance to create a sustainable way out of poverty. A workshop and training centre develops artisanal skills using locally sourced fabrics. Trainees learn to make everyday items such as school uniforms in a workshop powered by solar energy.


There is also an education programme with classes in life skills, business and entrepreneurship skills as well as financial education. Graduates can also apply for a grant for a sewing machine and start their business activity, or stay to work on Mayamiko The Label, which produces clothing for the external market.

Reality Gives, India

  • $15,000 / £12,000 will cover all operational costs for one month.
  • $10,000 / £8,000 could cover the annual salary for the Youth Programme Managers at two centres.
  • $1,200 / £1,000 could provide one year of Youth Programme student workshops and training, for two centres.


With the lockdown and no tourism revenue from their philanthropic tours, Reality Gives is unable to open their centres to the disadvantaged youth of Dharavi and to carry out their programmes to greatest effect. Dharavi is facing its most daunting challenge of preventing a cataclysmic wave of contagion. An outbreak of coronavirus in a place where social distancing is an oxymoron could easily turn into a grave public health emergency and overwhelm the city’s stretched public health system.

Dharavi in Mumbai is one of Asia’s largest slums, with a population of one million across an area of 1.7 square kilometres (520 acres). Living conditions within the slums are overcrowded and lack basic amenities such as water and sanitation, as well as providing few facilities for education. 


Reality Gives focuses on providing quality education to young people from underprivileged communities in Dharavi and New Delhi. Last year, 472 children from six primary grades were involved in the school programme and nine community members participated in a three-week English Teacher Training Programme and following this, three were hired to become English teachers in Dharavi.

Please consider supporting our six charity partners. They need your help, in whatever capacity, more than ever.

How can you make a donation?

To discuss your donation, please contact Nicola Shepherd who would be delighted to talk about any of our charities or advise on matching your interests to a specific project. Alternatively, please call us on +44 (0)1367 850 566 (UK) or +1 855 216 5040 (USA Collect).


Images provided by courtesy of:

Reality Gives, Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (copyright to Edward Selfe), Local Ocean Conservation, Painted Dog Conservation (copyright to Nick Dyer), Mayamiko Trust, The Chimpanzee Trust and Sanctuary (copyright to Ivana Tackiova and Suzi Eszterhas).