Living in Harmony with Urban Wildlife
I launched Wild Neighbours in 2010 with the support of Dr John Hadidian, Urban Wildlife Specialist at The Humane Society in the US. As initial programme sponsors, The Humane Society worked closely with me during the launch phase of Wild Neighbours.
My vision for Wild Neighbours is to motivate an interest in urban wildlife and the growing imperative to live more consciously and considerately alongside nature in our city.
In recent years, as the city’s natural spaces have slowly been diminished through urban and industrial development, appreciating and conserving local biodiversity has become an urgent priority of our time.
Increasingly around the world, as habitats are reduced and species decline, our living world is becoming smaller, more fragile; here in Cape Town, we can strive to live considerately alongside wildlife, so that we conserve the integrity of these wild lives and the habitats in which they live, and at the same time inspire future generations to become custodians of all that is wild and free in our beautiful city.
The Wild Neighbours initiative focuses on the premise that urban wildlife are increasingly becoming a conduit of connection to the natural world that was once an integral part of our lives, and that this connection is vital to our physical and psychological well-being.
Wild Neighbours subscribes to, and strives to incorporate the founding principles outlined by the global ‘Wild Cities’ programme launched at the WILD10 Wilderness Congress of 2013.
In 2016 Wild Neighbours became a Wild Cities Champion – https://wildcities.org/project/wild-neighbours-urban-wildlife-initiative-cape-town-south-africa/
“Who will now care for the animals, for they cannot look after themselves? Are there young men and women who are willing to take on this charge? Who will raise their voices, when mine is carried away on the wind, to plead their case?”
Through weaving together compelling images with descriptive narrative, the Wild Neighbours messaging encourages people to consider our shared place within the wider living world, thereby ensuring that wildlife and wild places become a conscious part of their lives.
The following materials have been distributed throughout Cape Town :
- OUTDOOR SIGNBOARDS, sponsored by The Humane Society and IFAW Southern Africa, are on display in 10 nature reserves around the city;
- WILD NEIGHBOURS SIGNBOARDS are on display in various private eco and wine estates including Atlantic Beach Estate, Constantia Uitsig, Lourensford Wine Estate, Merwida, Koelfontein Estate and Chapmans’ Bay Estate;
- URBAN WILDLIFE BROCHURES, sponsored by IFAW Southern Africa, were distributed through garden centres, book stores and nurseries, reaching thousands of people;
- LIVING WITH OUR WILD NEIGHBOURS BOOKLET, sponsored by IFAW Southern Africa, are on sale throughout the city;
- OUR WILD NEIGHBOURS SIGNBOARDS are on display in the Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town;
- OUR WILD NEIGHBOURS BOOKLET, sponsored by The Humane Society, was distributed through Africa Geographic magazine;
- LIVING WITH OUR WILD NEIGHBOURS PUBLIC TALK has been shared at public gatherings in the Auditorium of the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.
- WILD NEIGHBOURS EARTH DAY FLYERS were distributed to all staff of Woolworths Cape Town and De Beers Marine South Africa.
Wild Neighbours awareness signboards are on display in all local nature reserves around Cape Town. Each signboard is filled with photographs and information introducing the concept of urban wildlife and suggesting ways to live in harmony with birds and wildlife in the city.
Over the years, thousands of school children have read the signboards which are displayed prominently at the entrance to each nature reserve.
I worked closely with the City of Cape Town Environmental Management.
“We are so proud to be working with you on this initiative.” Dr John Hadidian, Urban Wildlife Specialist, Humane Society International
“Wild Neighbors is such a wonderful initiative!” Tim Nickles, Project Director, Wild Cities (Boulders, Colorado)
“You’re doing wonderful, wonderful work in my old home, Cape Town.” Lynne Taylor, Tashinga Initiative
“Congratulations on a wonderful and timeous book….the message is vital and must be circulated far and wide.” Helen Lockhart, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Two Oceans Aquarium
“Thank you for your beautifully written and exquisitely photographed book. It is an inspirational read…” Judy Hodson, Friends of Simons Town Coastline
“A beautiful initiative – may it grow and expand and inspire many to live in greater harmony with our wild neighbours.” Melissa Krige, Platbos Forest
“Such lovely curation of our natural environment!“ Dr Cathy Ward
“I was very impressed and moved by your signs up Disa Kloof.” Dr Les Underhill
“I just wanted to let you know that I was at Kirstenbosch today and stumbled upon your boards. Wow! Such beautiful and inspiring writing that made me kick my shoes off and feel the earth beneath my feet! It is such a wonderful thing that you are doing and so vitally important. Thanks for the inspiration.” Ingrid Blohm
“What a Godly moment to experience your ‘Reconnecting with Nature’ in such a beautiful way in the Karoo Garden in Worcester. Really inspiring. Keep up with your work of such high standards. Thanks for sharing it with us. God bless you and your team.” Francois Grobbelaar
“Last week I had the pleasure of reading your display at Kirstenbosch. Word for word I connected with what you are expressing there! It was wonderful to connect in that way – these moments are pockets of inspiration and hope.” Chanèl Rossouw