SA women rise up to help others in Africa connect with the wild

A Pietermaritzburg-born woman, Carla Geyser, is setting out to head an all-women expedition across four African countries to raise awareness about human-wildlife conflict. 

Geyser, an adventurer and humanitarian, will spend 50 days traversing 9 000 kilometres in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe armed with purpose and passion.

Joining Geyser and 11 other women will be education administrator at Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) Lungile Dimba, of KwaXimba near Cato Ridge.

Geyser, the founder of the non-governmental organisation Blue Sky Society Trust, earned a solid reputation as a conservation trailblazer in 2016, when she led South Africa’s first all-female expedition from South Africa to Kenya to help stem the tide of poaching.

“I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and I want to be that person,” said Geyser.

“A couple of years ago when I heard what was happening to our wildlife I just decided that I couldn’t sit back and not do anything about it. I combined my passion of adventure and travel with my organisation and decided to do the expedition.”

The Rise of the Matriarch expedition will head out for nearly two months on a 4x4 journey from September 16 where they will combine adventure travel with ecotourism fundraising.

Geyser will do the entire expedition while the other women will join for two weeks at a time. During the expedition they will also be engaging with local communities on human-wildlife issues and distribute 30 000 educational booklets, connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools.

“We want to educate these communities and try to reconnect them with animals. If they can learn and find solutions on how the communities can co-exist and live in harmony with the animals then we would have done our part,” she added.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I’m so passionate about it. It’s our heritage and it’s important to conserve these animals because they are also our biggest tourist attraction. We have lost [the] connection with the beauty of our environment.”

Dimba (24), who will join the expedition on September 30, told The Witness that she was looking forward to seeing what other conservationists are doing.

“It’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime. It’s a big way of touching lives and the environmental factor. It’s not just about changing someone else’s life. I feel like my life as well will be changed through the adventure.”

She said her passion for conservation began when she was still at school. “Everything that I’ve done has led me to where I work now. I love what I do and it keeps me sane and refreshed.”

The Rise of the Matriarch will return to the country on October 28.