If you want to do your bit for the environment and make a difference, your following questions should be: how can I do this, and who do I contact?
Images supplied with permission: The Bateleurs
Fortunately here in South Africa we have The Bateleurs, a Registered NGO, with over 150 volunteer pilots and aircraft. Founded in 1998 as a Non Profit Company (NPC), The Bateleurs provides beneficiary organisations an aerial perspective of the environment, assisting with missions throughout South Africa.
The Bateleurs aim is ensuring environmental sustainability through the provision of aviation support services to environmentalists and conservationists and their programmes in SA.
The Bateleurs provide flying services to assist decision-makers, researchers, educators, conservationists, other NPC’s and the media, allowing greater efficacy for those entities to make sound environmental decisions.
This is free service, with no charge to the beneficiaries for the missions flown or service offered. The Bateleurs have a rigorous process is in place to review and approve, or deny all flight requests. This process monitors missions and tracks all the activities of pilot members and their aircraft, providing the equivalent of 70% of the annual budget, with the balance sourced through fundraising activities and sponsors.
The Bateleurs’ Bonizwe Programme assists university students and partner tertiary institutions through a practical exercise in the curriculum of a relevant course for senior students. In this way, sponsored flights build on learning and knowledge already acquired by the students and adds the benefit of an aerial perspective.
The Bateleurs will fly to:
- Conserve and protect the earth’s diverse ecosystems;
- Expose and reverse the unsustainable use and destructive human exploitation of the earth’s biotic resources;
- Assist those who design and advocate natural resource policies that protect or restore life-sustaining ecosystems, and empower others in their efforts to maintain a healthy and productive environment;
- Support biodiversity research and management in the area of wildlife conservation, including game counts, habitat surveys and the translocation of animals and birds.
Some successful programmes in the past have included two orphaned African clawless otter cubs flown to the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital. Another recent flight helped combat the spread of rabies amongst the black jackals and honey badgers, in Gauteng at the South African World Heritage Site, The Cradle of Humankind.
On 27 July 2021, The Bateleurs helped translocate 14 African Wild Dogs in Malawi. The dogs were flown from South Africa and Mozambique to Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi to repopulate both parks. With only just 700 breeding pairs estimated to be left on the continent, this was an historic event in preserving our wildlife.
There are countless more projects and programmes already completed by The Bateleurs.
The Bateleurs membership is comprised mostly of volunteer pilots and ground members, who are able and willing to assist with a number of non-flying activities.
If you would like to become a member of the volunteer pilot corps, in order to fly missions on behalf of The Bateleurs, the following minimum requirements must be satisfied:
- Fixed Wing, Helicopter and LSA pilots must have logged at least 200 hours of flying time, allowing delivery on standard tasks, or 400hrs for involvement in the complex tasks.
- Weight Shift Microlight pilots must have logged at least 120 hours of flying time.
- All pilots must own or, have the use of a suitable aircraft.
- Pilots must complete and return a Volunteer Pilot Agreement. This is available on the Website at: https://bateleurs.co.za/pilot-application/
The Bateleurs Board of Directors is made up of well-known members Avroy Shlain (Avroy Shlain Cosmetics ), Bill de Pinho (ex SAAF pilot), Sven Kreher (Chartered Accountant), Dr Judy Mann-Lang (Conservationist), Raymond Steyn (Pilot and CEO Pilatus PC12 Southern Africa), and the following pilots, Steve McCurrach, Jay Van Deventer and Donavan Bailey.