Natural Resources & Conservation

How One Wildlife Conservationist Is Working To Protect Species In Africa


The most pressing issues impacting Africa’s wildlife are expertly tackled by Ivan Carter- wildlife conservationist, photographer, television host, and hunting guide. As a native of Zimbabwe, he grew up seeing the importance of animals in Africa. He founded the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, a nonprofit providing financial support to anti-poaching teams, helps create new strategies to reduce poaching, and increases awareness of this issue. He also has his own television show Carter’s W.A.R. (Wild Animal Response). In this series, Carter puts his life on the line and gets between the most at-risk animals and heavily armed poachers in the wilds of Africa.

In addition to managing his nonprofit and hosting his television show, Ivan Carter was rated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of Africa’s top 10 guides (non-hunting) and he has spoken at Stanford University about elephant populations, tourism impacts, and biological adaptations and he spoke for several Fortune 500 companies about human impact on the environment.

What inspired you to create the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance and Carter’s W.A.R.? 

After a couple of decades on the front line guiding folks through Africa, I realized that with the growing human element, there were stories that truly needed to be told. The animal conservation conflicts are growing but there are also heroes at the heart of each one, often with great solutions and yet this has seemed somehow to escape the attention of the general public. So we embarked on Carter’s W.A.R., which is a show designed to entertain, educate and to illicit an emotional response from a viewer and challenge them to step up and support our initiatives.

Are you involved with other organizations?

Our foundation is called the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance- with emphasis on the word alliance, we partner and support people who have been working on solutions for years and each and every one of our chosen initiatives has a partner. I believe conservation is simple- identify the hero of an issue, someone with the solution clear in their mind and then motivate a community to get them the funding and support they need to thrive!

How did you get started working in wildlife preservation?

It truly is simply an extension of a childhood love of nature and the outdoors. I love being in the field and as one matures and starts to have kids you realize that if we want our environment, ecosystems and species to endure we have to do something to make a difference and that’s my goal, to do something that makes a difference.

What is the human wildlife conflict? 

It depends on where you are looking, it could be a man-eating crocodile epidemic in Mozambique, it could be the cattle lion conflict that exists in many parts of Africa, it could be the demise of species being poached for body parts to satisfy eastern cultural markets, or it could be the illegal trade of live animals for the pet trade. Each and every one of these leads to the decline in wildlife, and none of them are sustainable from a wildlife perspective. Equally each is born of one fact – there are more people on the planet every day and the wildlife is therefore under greater and greater pressure. 

For those who don’t know, what is poaching? What drives people to poaching?

Poaching is, very simply put, the illegal killing of wildlife. It’s driven by one factor- wildlife value. Whether the wildlife is seen as a valuable food or the source of a valuable product, it’s simply the theft of this wildlife. For those reasons – a million tons of bushmeat is poached in the Congo Basin alone every year, 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory to satisfy an Asian demand, and we lose a rhino every 8 hours…and this reduction in rhino numbers led to rhino horn being the most valuable commodity on
the planet.

What animals are most at risk for poaching today?

There are actually a host of them and while the focus is always on rhinos, we have seen giraffes go extinct in seven African countries, and we see several hundred live baby chimps traded into the exotic pet industry every single year.

Are there laws in place today to protect against poaching? What are the consequences? 

This varies a lot from country to country but yes, the very definition of the word poaching means illegal killing and so every poacher is by definition a lawbreaker. In some counties, there is even a shoot to kill policy in place against poachers.

Do you believe we are in the 6th extinction? 

Yes, and I think it will be at the hand of man.

What can the average person do to raise awareness for endangered species and threats from poachers?

Without realizing it, every extra plastic packet we use, every extra minute of time we leave a light on, all has an effect. The plastic will be with us likely forever and the power it takes to generate running water or electricity has a huge impact. In America, particularly- waste less food, it takes the same amount of energy and resources to generate food we throw away as it does food we eat! 

Ivan Carter recently took a trip to Dallas, TX where he sat down with EARTHx founder, Trammell S. Crow, to further the conversation on wildlife. Stay tuned for the exciting details of a joint effort to come!



Author: Taryn Darter