The Rowland Ward Foundation is helping to ensure people who live in proximity to wildlife also benefit from it.
Photo above by Mike Arnold: Among the many projects supported by hunters through the Rowland Ward Foundation is this rural hospital in Cameroon.
Rowland Ward is a very old-line name in the hunting world. James Rowland Ward, born in 1848 in London, followed in his father’s footsteps in the taxidermy business. He owned and operated a taxidermy shop known as “The Jungle” that became an almost mandatory stop for Victorian-era hunters traveling through London on their way to Africa or India. But it was his record book, Rowland Ward’s Records of Big Game, which he started publishing in the 1890s as a marketing tool for his taxidermy business, that made him a household name. (Or at least a very famous hunting-camp name.)
Fast-forward about 130 years. Not only is the Rowland Ward record book still being published–it’s currently in its Thirtieth Edition, the oldest record book in existence–but also, Rowland Ward itself has become the Rowland Ward Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to support sustainable, fair-chase hunting that benefits local, indigenous people and the conservation of wildlife and its habitat worldwide.
One of the things that makes me proud to be a hunter is the important conservation work that hunters do through the many excellent wildlife organizations founded and funded by sportsmen. Rather than concentrate on the conservation of a particular species, as many of these organizations do, the Rowland Ward Foundation takes a different tack. It recognizes the crucial role of local communities in conserving wildlife habitat, especially in developing countries.
It may seem odd at first for a conservation organization to focus on people instead of animals. But anyone who has hunted in places like Africa and Asia understands that wildlife and habitat can only thrive in such places if local communities receive tangible benefits from the wildlife they live with.
Many of the people who live near the hunting areas we love to visit may own little more than a small hut and a few head of livestock. Well-run hunting operations in these areas, supported by organizations like the Rowland Ward Foundation, provide steady employment as well as nutrition, education, health care, and other long-term benefits to the local communities. When the local people see that they are better off protecting, rather than poaching, their wildlife, their communities in turn become active and effective conservation partners with the hunters who support their efforts.
Only by ensuring these locals get their share of benefits from the wildlife and wilderness they live with year-round, and by engaging them as equal partners, can we protect the animals and natural habitat we all love. Learn more about the many projects supported by the Rowland Ward Foundation, and how you can help, at rowlandward.org.