Women expedition for conservation


Conservationist Carla Geyser is putting the finishing touches to an all-women SA-led expedition across four countries

Local adventurer and humanitarian, Carla Geyser, will be leading a team of all-female South African expedition across four African countries, travelling 9000 in kilometres to raise awareness about human-wildlife conflict this September.

The Journeys with Purpose: Rise of the Matriarch Expedition will see an all-women crew traversing South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe armed with purpose and passion. Geyser, the founder of the NPO, Blue Sky Society Trust, has been involved in conservation and community upliftment initiatives since 2012. “I firmly believe that one person can make a difference in this world and I want to be that person,” she says.
The 45-year-old Durban resident earned a solid reputation as a conservation trailblazer in 2016, when she led South Africa’s first all-female expedition from South Africa to Kenya to help stem the tide of poaching. The Journeys with Purpose: Elephant Ignite Expedition brought together 13 women who embarked on a 100-day journey to Kenya, raising funds and awareness among communities along the way. The team returned home triumphant, having covered more than 15 000km, visited 37 wildlife organisations, distributed 20 000 educational booklets to children, and raised nearly R300 000 for various conservation projects.

Replicating this magic formula, Geyser now plans on taking her conservation message across the four countries on a nearly two-month 4×4 journey that will combine adventure travel with ecotourism fundraising. The team will engage with local communities especially children on the human-wildlife issue and distribute 30 000 educational booklets, connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools, and meet with incredible women who are doing remarkable things at a grassroots level to assist in conservation efforts. Funds raised during the expedition will benefit four causes, namely, Elephants Alive (South Africa), Rare and Endangered Species Trust (Namibia), Eco-Exist Project (Botswana) and the Soft Foot Alliance Trust (Zimbabwe).

Excitement aside, Geyser acknowledges that a journey of this nature requires more than meticulous planning and a dedicated crew. “It’s a daily emotional rollercoaster: setting up camp, driving long distances, cooking and cleaning chores, dealing with the impact of hearing devastating stories about wildlife failures and the adrenaline of listening to those that speak of successes. I have to make sure that every woman joining us is aware of this. There’s more to the planning phase than individuals sourcing sponsors; it’s about heading out with the correct mind-set and being open to all that Mama Africa throws our way.”

While the Rise of the Matriarch team is preparing to leave in September, it’s not too late for business, organisations or individuals to get involved. “This is an excellent opportunity for citizens and corporates to make a meaningful difference,” explains Geyser. “The expedition is more than a project that’s fuelled by passion; it’s an initiative by an all-women conservation team of conservation ‘she-roes’ who are determined to do our bit to help save our piece of the planet. As noble as this undertaking is, we can’t do it alone. We need support.”