Photo © Anton van Niekerk
The main goal of the Endangered Wildlife Trusts’s Urban Conservation Project is to provide tools and support for the sustainable management of the human-wildlife interface within the urban matrix of Gauteng and create a better city for both humans and wildlife.
Faced with ever increasing urbanisation, it has become necessary to consider cities and other urban areas as sites requiring integration into conservation efforts. This is particularly true of areas inhabited by indigenous wildlife such as birds and bats that have adapted to living in and around man-made buildings and infrastructure. While such adaptations are beneficial to the animals’ ability to survive in urban settings, these urban-adapted species are also in a particularly vulnerable position to human conflict and persecution due to their close proximity to humans. Humans can also find themselves in vulnerable positions when they come into contact with potentially dangerous animals or are exposed to wildlife carriers of disease.
Many urban residents consider a number of urban wildlife species as pests and often resort to unnecessarily destructive behaviour to rid themselves of such annoyances. Wildlife in our cities is, however, fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the natural ecosystem processes that provide us with services required for our survival such as water and clean air. The natural environment is also vitally important for our mental and emotional wellbeing, providing us with spaces for recreational, cultural and spiritual activities.