Press Release: Celebrity Conservationist Rachel Reenstra Joins NSEFU Wildlife Conservation Foundation/Zikomo Safari Camp by zikomo safaris | Aug 12, 2015 | Blog, People, Road Travel | 0 comments

PRESS RELEASE: Celebrity wildlife conservationist and the host of ABC’s Emmy-nominated wildlife program The Wildlife Docs has joined Nsefu Wildlife Conservation Foundation as a board member.

The actress and comedian has spent time in both Africa and Asia with elephants and champions causes that benefit the sentient species. She has showcased conservation efforts around the world and in North America from the elusive pine marten in Michigan (her home state) to the savannah elephants of East Africa. Rachel is poised to bring a platform and a passion to Nsefu Wildlife Conservation Foundation, which develops, administers and manages conservation initiatives for Zikomo Safari Camp located in the Nsefu sector of South Luangwa National Park in Eastern Zambia.

Before joining the show filmed at Busch Gardens Tampa, Reenstra hosted “Ms. Adventure”, a show on Animal Planet, which took her to some of the world’s most remote places. She holds a graduate degree in psychology, which helps her interpret animal behavior for national televison audiences. Reenstra launched her entertainment career as a comedian in the 1990’s after relocating from Michigan to Los Angeles.

Nsefu Wildlife Conservation Foundation

Mission: NSEFU Wildlife Conservation Foundation endeavors to combat wildlife crimes with advances in conservation technology and grassroots action.  Through education and outreach, and pioneering innovations used to protect and prevent the further destruction of ecosystems and the depopulation of species, NWCF intends to be a steward of nature in Zambia. 


PictureCourtesy of Zikomo Safari Camp
Hatching at a length of 2 ft and growing in excess of 20 ft (6 meters) the African rock python is Africa’s largest snake and one of the five largest snakes on the planet.  It is up there in size with the green anaconda, the reticulated python, the Burmese python and the amethystine python or giant scrub python—Australia’s largest snake. In fact, it is only shorter in length than the reticulated python.  Not only is it big, but some, including professional herpetologists, consider it the most vicious snake in the world.  The hatchlings tend to constrict small prey and as they grow, they feed on animals as large as adult antelope and crocodiles. 

African rock pythons have also, unfortunately, been implicated in the deaths of people, albeit very rarely. In recent years, captive African rock pythons have killed people, including one that escaped from a pet store. They do not make good pets, to say the least.  The rock python is also one of the very few snakes known to to guard and protect its offspring and they do it passionately and with conviction.

There are two subspecies of African rock pythons. The smaller of the two are found in our neck of the woods in southern Africa. They tend to be associated with riparian environments—near bodies of water. With that said, they can be found in a diversity of habitats from forest to savannah.

The snake in the photo was killed by a leopard on our property.  These pythons are not endangered, but their future is threatened by their collection for the pet trade, their skins, which are still highly sought after, and in some cases because they are hunted for food. In other instances their populations are threatened by disturbances to habitat. These snakes are also frequently killed by people because they are so feared by man. With that said, rock pythons rarely kill people, but their formidable reputation precedes them. 

At Zikomo Safari Camp, we respect the rock python and give them their space. The wild snakes stay away from people, but we certainly welcome our guests to photograph them if they are fortunate enough to see one of these most impressive of Africa’s large reptilians in nature.

Dr. Jordan Schaul is a board member of NWCF and a former contributor to National Geographic’s editorial news publication News Watch: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/author/jschaul/

US Ambassador to Zambia Eric Shultz and his team recently visited Zikomo Safari Camp to meet and greet Victoria, and some of our team in South Luangwa. His wife and two boys and his staff joined Victoria and Zick and Zikomo Camp staff for lunch.

Ambassador Shultz was appointed to his post last year after a distinguished career in the Senior Foreign Service with his last appointment in the Ukraine. He has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe and held a position in Madagascar in addition to many other foreign service roles around the globe.

A conservationist at heart, the Ambassador was eager to learn about what we are doing to safeguard wildlife and wild lands in Eastern Zambia. He was particularly eager to begin correspondence with Dr. Tom Snitch who serves on our board and is a leader and visionary in the elephant conservation arena. We shared that Dr. Snitch, through his innovative work with unmanned aerial vehicles, which he deploys in the war against poaching, is making leaps and bounds in the war against poachers.

One of the other things we talked about was how important it is to conduct capacity buildling for local people to complement our high tech anti-poaching program.  Poverty is pervasive in the area and if Nsefu Wildlife Conservation Foundation can help develop opportunities for people to embrace alternative livelihoods, we can not only reduce poverty on a local level, but we can reduce the incentive to poach wildlife for bush meat. 

In the wake of the tragic loss of Cecil the Lion in neighboring Zimbabwe, discussion turned to trophy hunting and the larger issue of conserving Zambia's wildlife and promotion of the ecotourism industry. We want to be champions for ecotourism and reduce the reliance on trophy hunting as a source of revenue, which often ends up in the wrong hands or just a few hands.  We look forward to cultivating a relationship with Ambassador Schultz and his team and we are so honored that he visited Zikomo Safari Camp. Here is Ambassador Shultz's website: http://zambia.usembassy.gov/ambassador.html

Dr. Jordan Schaul is a board member of NWCF and a former contributor to National Geographic's editorial news publication News Watch

PictureCourtesy of Zikomo Safari Camp
It is not dubbed the 'Valley of the Elephants' for nothing. Spanning both Southern Miombo and lower elevation Zambezian and Mopane woodland savanna ecoregions, South Luangwa National Park is one of the finest nature tourism destinations on the African continent. It is a paradise for the extreme wildlife enthusiast and professional. From conservationists to professional and amateur photographers, South Luangwa draws an ecletic crowd of animal lovers. 

The Luangwa River’s natural flood cycle draws many large and spectacular mammal species. And while, historically, the rainy season and floodplains have kept people from over-settling the region, Luangwa is now a world-class destination for foreigners, catering to highly acclaimed ecotourism and wildlife viewing.

Together with the Mid-Zambezi Valley Ecosystem, the Luangwa Valley Ecosystem comprise 70,000 km2 of unfenced national parks and corridors, referred to as Game Management Areas. These GMA’s, which serve to connect the national parks to each other in a network of fairly undisturbed habitat.

The Luangwa Valley is home to an abundance of ungulate species, including impala, kudu, puku, giraffe, and zebra. Carnivores like lions, leopards and hyena are some of the more sought after species to view.  In fact, the region sports Zambia’s largest lion population and second largest wild dog (aka painted dog) population, along with heavy concentrations of leopards (WWF 2015). The Valley also boasts one of the best birding venues on the planet.  

However, as in much of Sub-Sahara Africa, Eastern Zambia’s wildlife inhabitants are under siege and many charismatic, high-profile species, like the elephants, may vanish from the southern Africa landscape in our lifetime. The sad fate of the now extinct black rhino, ravaged by poachers in the region, speaks to the urgency of situation and the dire need to safeguard conservation-sensitive species.  Both hippo and elephant populations have fluctuated in response to intensive hunting and poaching in and outside of the National Park.