In the North Luangwa Valley—one of the most biodiverse and intact wilderness areas left in Africa, with some of the highest remaining concentrations of wildlife left on the continent—illegal wildlife poaching had decimated wildlife, bringing once-vast elephant herds to the brink of extermination. Hammer Simwinga, a Zambian environmentalist, saw that extreme poverty was driving villagers to environmentally harmful practices, counter to traditional African values. He created an innovative program that reduced poverty and transformed poachers into caring conservationists protecting their cultural and natural heritage. Elephant and wildlife populations rebounded. The deep link between indigenous communities and their lands—experiential, spiritual, biological—is something not yet fully appreciated in conventional approaches to conservation, but that may be key to saving the earth’s future. Join TNS Host Michael Lerner in conversation with award-winning environmentalist Hammer Simwinga.
Winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize and a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Hammer Simwinga is one of 22 “Climate Trailblazers” invited by Governor Jerry Brown to the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. As founder and executive chairman of the Foundation for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation headquartered in Northern Zambia, Hammer is now spearheading the creation of the Mukungule Community Nature Conservancy, Zambia’s first community-initiated and operated nature conservancy.