African Conservation Centre is a 16-year-old East African institution founded and run by a small team of dedicated Africans.
ACC is unique because of its strong basis in science, its honoring of traditional knowledge of local people, and its targeted longterm community-based conservation projects.
The centre also houses and fosters numerous other regional research and conservation organisations.
In 2006 friends of ACC established a presence in the U.S. by founding a non-profit organization to raise funds and awareness for their work. Although registered as African Conservation Fund for fundraising purposes, in 2010 we began doing business in the U.S. and abroad as African Conservation Centre.
The vision behind African Conservation Centre is Dr. David Western. A native East African, Dr. Western began his career as a scientist and conservationist in 1967 studying the ecology of the Maasai Amboseli National Reserve to address a deep conflict over its status and future.
Conservationists, insistent that overgrazing was destroying Amboseli’s famous fever tree woodland and its wildlife, were pressing the government to create a national park and exclude the Maasai. The Kajiado County Council rejected the claim and insisted on control of the reserve and its tourist revenues.
Recognizing the role of pastoralists in the ecosystem, Western studied the interplay of livestock and wildlife, and showed the importance of seasonal migrations and the drought refuges of the Amboseli basin in sustaining their abundance and coexistence. Based on these findings, he proposed that the Maasai should establish a small core park nested within a larger ecosystem that sustained the migrations and the coexistence of people and wildlife. The proposal drew in anthropologists, political scientists, and economists from the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Development Studies, the warden, Daniel Sindiyo, members of the Maasai community and the Kajiado County Council. Thus began a lifetime commitment to community-based conservation, science, and local knowledge. Read more about the Amboseli Conservation Program . . .
Board of Directors ~ ACC-US
Left to right: Roseann Hanson, former executive director, ACC-US (African Conservation Fund); Dr. Bill Yancey, chairman; Roger Snoble, board member; Dr. David Western, board member; Carolyn Green, board member; Betty Buyu, board member ACC-US (African Conservation Fund) and executive director, ACC Kenya. Not pictured: Dr. Norman Myers, board member.
Dr. William Yancey
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Bill Yancey is currently the Assistant Dean and Director, of UCLA Continuing Dental Education and Alumni Affairs. He has been the Director of Continuing Education for the past 14 years and took over the duties of Alumni Affairs 3 years ago. After dental school he served as a dental officer in the U.S. Air Force for two years in Japan. It was after his service overseas he fulfilled a childhood dream to go to Africa. He spent 4 months in Kenya and Tanzania. That experience has never left him. He and his wife, Eva, go back every year now, and have visited almost all the countries from Kenya to South Africa that still have wildlife. They both are dedicated to conserving these treasures of East Africa and therefore take custom safaris to East Africa every year.
Mr. Roger Snoble
Board Member (Immediate Past Chairman)
Rancho Mirage, CA, USA
Roger Snoble has recently retired as the Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles County (MTA), a position he held since October 1, 2001. Mr. Snoble s career in public transportation spans over 40 years. Prior to joining MTA, he served as president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) for seven years. Before DART, Snoble served as president and general manager of the San Diego Transit Corporation where he worked 20 years, 15 as President and General manager. Roger's wife, Kit, who also assists African Conservation Fund with administrative tasks, is retired from a successful career in Mortgage Banking. The Snobles have been involved with conservation for many years being members of the San Diego Zoo and the World Wildlife Fund. Roger served on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Zoological Association and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. After going on their first safari in Kenya in 1990, the Snobles returned in 1995 and 2000 to both Kenya and Tanzania. The visits inspired them to get involved in conserving the resources of East Africa.
Ms. Carolyn Greene
Boulder, CO, USA
Ms. Greene is a conservation consultant for nonprofit organizations. She has 16 years experience managing conservation projects in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain West. As a former program director for National Wildlife Federation, Ms. Greene was active in working with diverse communities to solve complex wildlife conservation issues. She also specialized in helping small conservation organizations raise funds and develop best business practices. Carolyn's passion for Kenya began after college when she spent four months working with Stefano Cheli and Liz Peacock of Cheli and Peacock Safaris. At this time she also met Dr. David Western of the African Conservation Centre and his wife Dr. Shirley Strum. These four people and the experience of Kenya changed her life: she returned to graduate school to pursue wildlife conservation as a career. Carolyn and her husband, Kelly, have two wonderful daughters and make their home in Boulder.
Mrs. Betty Buyu
Board Member, ACC-US, and Executive Director, ACC Kenya
A graduate of Biochemistry and Zoology from Nairobi University, Betty has acquired a great deal of experience from both private and public sectors. Her career started at East Africa Industries, an affiliate Unilever organization, where she held various responsibilities in both the technical and marketing fields. From there she worked with other Blue Chip multinationals such as British American Tobacco and Sterling Health (now GlaxoSmithKline) as Marketing Director for the Kenyan companies.
In the public sector, Betty was Managing Director of the Kenya Tourist Board where she is credited with successfully re-launching Kenya as a tourist destination and raising Kenya's tourism profile locally and internationally. Betty was a full-time conultant for the Commonwealth Business Council marketing both the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala, Uganda and the East African Investment meeting in Rwanda. In late 2008 she joined African Conservation Centre as the Director; she brings a wealth of marketing, tourism networks and leadership expertise to ACC.
Dr. Norman Myers
As a young man, Norman pursued a career in photojournalism and wildlife photography, which took him to Kenya where long days observing wildlife inspired him to return to school to study ecology as well as economics. He is currently a Fellow at Green College, Oxford University; the Andrew D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University; and an advisor at the World Bank's Global Environment Facility. Dr. Myers has won many awards, including the Volvo Environment Prize and the United Nations' Sasakawa Prize. He has published more than 250 professional papers, 300 popular articles, and 15 books with sales of one million copies in 11 languages. He is the originator of the biodiversity hot-spot strategy that has generated over $300 million for conservation activities worldwide.
Dr. David Western
Nairobi, Kenya/San Diego, CA, USA
Dr. Western is founding executive director of African Conservation Centre. Raised in Tanzania and now a Kenyan citizen, he has spent over 37 years engaged in research in Kenya studying the interactions between livestock, wildlife, and humans, with the aim of developing conservation strategies applicable at an ecosystem scale. As former director of Kenya Wildlife Service and conservation director for Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Western has been active in many areas of conservation, including community-based conservation, international programs, conservation planning, ecotourism, training, directing governmental and non-governmental organizations and public education. He and his wife, Dr. Shirley Strum, spend several months each year in California, where Dr. Strum is professor of anthropology at the University of California at San Diego. Their daughter Carissa is in graduate school in conflict resolution and international peace, and their son, Guy, is currently studying at UC Santa Barbara.
Former executive director, now volunteer.
Ms. Hanson has 20 years experience working as an environmental communications and non-profit management specialist in community-based conservation, specializing in assisting new and growing organizations in building strong programs through careful business planning, innovative communications programs, and diverse development strategies. She is a native of southern Arizona, and has worked throughout the American West, northern Mexico, and East Africa as a naturalist guide, journalist, and conservation program director and executive. Her introduction to conservation issues in East Africa was through the Two Cowboys Project in 2002, which she participated in as a conservation representative from the American West. Since then Roseann and her husband, Jonathan, have become involved in several conservation projects in northern Tanzania and have lead conservation safaris there and in Kenya. She and Jonathan make their home in the Sonoran Desert, an hour more or less southwest of Tucson, where they run a small organization, ConserVentures, which promotes exploration of our world and conservation of its natural and cultural heritage.
Dr. John Waithaka
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Waithaka is former associate director at Kenya Wildlife Service, and now ecological integrity manager for Parks Canada. He is a native Kenyan and accomplished scientist. He and his family make their home now in Ontario, Canada - and are adapting slowly to things like snow.
In the first of our series of stories introducing you to our Faces of Conservation, we present our latest board chairman, Bill Yancey, and his wife, Eva. After yearly trips to East Africa, their passion for the places, wildlife, and people has only increased - so much so that they have dedicated a good deal of their personal time out from their busy lives to help community-based conservation efforts in Kenya and Tanzania. Swedish born and raised in Los Angeles, Eva is a dental surgeon, while native Los Angelean Bill is Assistant Dean and Director of UCLA's Continuing Dental Education and Alumni Affairs.
"After visiting Kenya and Tanzania for 4 months in my early years, I was anxious to take my wife there in the early 90s to see if she would be as charmed as I was. After our first visit together, it was obvious she was equally enthralled. Eva and I fell in love with the incredible wildlife, the varied landscapes, and the warm and friendly people. It's truly a life-changing experience. We have returned to Tanzania and Kenya every year since then, and find that we enjoy it more and more each time. Over those years we came to understand that underlying the beauty and majesty of the wildlife and open landscapes, there are many challenges facing the future preservation of these things we love so dearly . . .
"Foremost among the challenges to preserving this magical place are those concerning people - population growth means more and more wildlife habitat is lost, with more wildlife being pushed into inhabited areas, creating conflicts with farmers and pastoralists. The great tragedy is that both people and wildlife can be harmed or die in these conflicts. Through our ongoing work and assistance, issues like these are currently being rectified.
"One of the messages that inspired me to become involved with African Conservation Centre, is 'if people are part of the problem, people must be part of the solution."
"We find this is so true in East Africa, where the old model for conservation - creating wildlife parks where local people are excluded except those tourists who are paying customers - turns out to be far less than the ideal solution. National parks are only a part of the answer, because wildlife needs to move widely across the landscapes, along their ancient migratory routes seeking food and water between Kenya and Tanzania; and people need to benefit more directly from the presence of wildlife as well, if there is to remain a healthy balance between the wildlife and the surrounding communities.
"What people like Dr. David Western, founder of African Conservation Centre, discovered through many years of ground-breaking research, is that when local communities create "parks beyond parks," community conservation areas where wildlife can thrive and still have a value that directly benefits the local people, a win-win situation develops. Dr. Western and his colleagues have found through their research that wildlife- even more than in some national parks-is most abundant in areas where traditional pastoralists like the Maasai have been living alongside wildlife for thousands of years. And in these existing "parks beyond parks," the local people are just now starting to benefit directly from conservation fees from tourists, who come to see the wildlife, and fees that scientists will pay who are drawn to these wildlife-rich areas where they need to continue their work.
"As the chairman of African Conservation Fund in the U.S., I want to help launch several fundraising and awareness campaigns that will support some key community conservation efforts in East Africa which will directly benefit these local communities while continuing to support the wildlife. I think we have an important message to share, about the value of involving communities in managing their own land and wildlife for conservation. This is where we can best have a significant impact, in a positive and comprehensive way, to secure and maintain the future of this magnificent place. Please join us."
Photos by Bill Yancey, (C). African elephant; Serval in grass.