This Christmas, why not give a thoughtful gift that also makes a meaningful difference to our beautiful planet?
We have some delightful gift ideas that will also make a difference to the environment, & provide alternative livelihoods for local communities living with wildlife. When the people living with wildlife are lifted out of poverty and have their basic needs met, they can care for their precious natural heritage. Check out our gift ideas; we hope you’ll choose one or more of them.
1. Dogs for wildlife in the Congo
Puppies aren’t just for Christmas, but these highly trained sniffer dogs need your help so they can keep working to save Africa’s endangered wildlife! These dogs work at control posts, in airports, and the houses of traffickers. The dogs act as a deterrent, and help search for illegal bush-meat, ivory, pangolin scales, as well as live animals, illegal firearms and ammunition. Read more about the Aspinall Foundation’s project and donate here.
2. Jewellery made from wire snares in Zambia by Mulberry Mongoose
Every year, thousands of illegal snares set for unsuspecting wildlife are found and removed by dedicated anti-poaching teams. The snares from Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park are gathered during anti-poaching patrols or cut free from wounded animals including lion, leopard, elephant and wild dog. Wire snaring is a devastating form of poaching, killing and injuring many wildlife species. With every piece of snare wire jewellery sold, US$ 5.00 is donated to help fund these patrols’ essential work. Check out their range of snare wire jewellery here.
3. Flying for Elephants in Kenya
Many of us will be flying around the world this Christmas. Why not help elephants and other wildlife stay safe with their families by keeping this gyrocopter in the air? The Elephant Protection Trust uses it for daily aerial patrols to detect illegal activities including poaching for elephant ivory & bushmeat and burning for charcoal. Having aerial support enables them to cover the half million acres known as the Kasigau corridor, which connect East & West Tsavo National Park. Learn more about this important project, and donate here.
4. Crafts from Uzbekistan Saving Saigas
Saiga antelopes are especially memorable for their unusual, droopy noses. Once spread across much of the Eurasian steppes, sadly, they are now critically endangered, and one of the fastest declining mammal species on our planet. Over the last 20 years their population has dropped by over 95%, largely thanks to poaching. Although they were traditionally hunted for their meat & hides, it’s now their translucent amber horn they’re hunted for, which is used in SE Asian countries for Chinese Traditional Medicine. Help stop the poaching by supporting the local communities with an alternative source of income. We love their cool embroidered purses & cosmetic bags as well as t-shirts. All profits go directly to the local communities. Check them out here.
5. Gorgeous Wild Silk from the rainforests of Madagascar
These beautiful silks are hand crafted in the biodiverse eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Local farmers make their livelihoods from silkworms using a no-kill method that helps conserve important rainforest areas that would otherwise disappear thanks to illegal logging. Madagascar’s Eastern rainforests are home to endemic lemurs, chameleons, geckos and plenty of other unique wildlife. All profits go back directly to the local Malagasy farmers. Check out these lovely silk textiles and products including hats, jewellery and pillows here.
6. An edible plant!
Give your friends and family a gift that keeps on giving. Five years ago, I gave my mum a tiny fig tree (more a twig!), which has now grown into a large tree that produces hundreds of figs every summer. Although it may not seem directly related to helping our planet, it really is – when you grow a plant at home, you are are using your backyard, balcony or indoor space to grow food. No transport is required, other than human power, and you can choose not to use chemicals, which are harmful to the environment and you! There are so many options here depending on where the plant will go – a fruit tree, such as pomegranate, fig, or peach, a chilli plant or herbs, or even a passionfruit vine, which produces pretty flowers (see below). Remember to buy your plants potted in clay pots, rather than plastic pots, which are non-biodegradable. No gift wrapping needed! You can just go down to your local edible plant nursery and shop ’til you drop!
7. Protect land for wildlife in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or Peru through the Rainforest Trust
Habitat degradation and destruction is one of the key reasons for the loss of our planet’s wildlife & pristine wild places. Contribute as much or as little as you want to rainforest protection projects in countries ranging from Indonesia to Peru and Kenya. You will be saving the forest, which provides clean air & water, acts as a carbon sink, and stabilises the precious soil, and also all the creatures that live within it. With just $10, you can protect over 15 acres of rainforest in Papua New Guinea, creating a safe haven for the Matschie’s tree kangaroo. Read more on the Tree Kangaroo here or choose another amazing project that strikes a cord with you here.
8. T-shirts helping protect a wildlife sanctuary with Wildlife Works
Now you can buy stylish clothing that makes a statement, helps wildlife, and plants trees. The clothing factory is located just inside Rukinga wildlife sanctuary, and provides the local community with alternative livelihoods, giving them a reason to protect their community bushland and the wildlife within. Choose a funky t-shirt & design that suits your style here.
9. Give the gift of (re)connecting with nature
A thoughtful, experiential gift will be appreciated and remembered for a long time. A visit to a nearby national park, watching the sunrise or sunset at the beach, going for a hike in the forest, or even sitting by a lake quietly and watching the birdlife. This may not seem directly related to conserving nature, but every time you spend time in nature, you love it just a little bit more, which is great for our planet!
10. Pure Nilotic Shea butter from South Sudan with Lulu Life
A soft & pure nilotic shea butter that melts easily into your skin, and made by a cooperative of women in South Sudan. The women live in rural communities throughout South Sudan, and have suffered through war & famine. The income from sales of this shea butter goes directly to the women to help them rebuild their communities with dignity. Choose from body butter, soaps, body scrubs and lip balm – or get them all – here.
11. Baobab ‘superfood’ from Pink Forest Madagascar stopping deforestation
Baobab trees are native to lowland areas of Africa & Madagascar. The baobab fruit has recently received much attention for its incredibly high levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, taking it into the ‘superfood’ category. Baobab powder makes a delicious addition to a smoothie, or mix a teaspoon into a glass of water to enjoy the refreshing tart flavour. It’s an awesome product for your health, and also for the environment. Local communities are able to make a living from collecting and selling baobab products from the native baobab forests. As a result, they no longer chop down the trees or slash-and-burn for agriculture, which would soon lead to desertification, and a repetition of this cycle. Check out the fantastic infographics here. Learn more about, and shop for baobab products here.
12. Wooden platters & chopping boards from the Leakey Collection
Made from naturally fallen wood, you can buy these beautiful wooden products without feeling guilty about chopping down trees. The Leakeys pay the local Maasai women to collect the wood and bring it to the farm, where each piece is crafted into its final form. They also make beautiful stylish jewellery made from zulu grass. Choose from their various wooden products here, and check out the zulu grass jewellery here.
And finally, a bonus one!
Book and go on a Conservation Safari with us
Of course, we couldn’t create a list for conservation gifts without making our own contribution. From December 2015 to February 2016, in addition to our ‘regular’ conservation contributions on every safari, quote this article when you book a safari with us, and we will donate an extra 5% of that safari’s cost to any of the projects listed here. As easy as that! Check out our safaris to Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Arctic and Antarctica here.
We hope you’ve got some great ideas from our Gifts for Conservation, and even better, that you’ve used some (or all!) of our suggestions. We’d love to hear from you – if you gave one of these gifts, how did your friend/ family like them?
Do you have any suggestions that we should include in our list for next year? If so, please leave your suggestions in the comments section below. All suggestions and ideas welcome.
Photo credits: 1. Aspinall Foundation 2. MulberryMongoose.com 4. SaigaCraft.org 5. WildSilkMarkets.com 7. Rainforesttrust.org, photo by Bruce Beehler 8. WildlifeWorks.com 12. LeakeyCollection.com 3, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13 ConservationSafaris.com