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Dear Friends,

Last August, I had the chance to visit one of my favorite places in Africa. This special place straddles the western arm of the Rift Valley adjacent to Lake Eyasi and the vast Serengeti plains of Tanzania. Just north of here lies Olduvai Gorge and some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found. These areas comprise the core homeland of the Hadza people, one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes left on Earth, and together we call it the Yaeda Valley (read more about our work in this region in the current issue of Nature Conservancy magazine).

On this occasion I was standing on a big rock, or kopje, with a group of staff to learn about our important conservation work. On that day and at that time, we could feel a certain energy vibrating around and through us. For me, it was like the wisdom and experience of our ancestors was being channeled through the wind. I felt it viscerally in the body, and yet it was almost impossible to describe verbally. The Hadza would say that our bodies were simply absorbing the presence and knowledge of others who have been on the kopje before us for thousands of years.  

That knowledge must be helping all of us, because 2015 was another great year of conservation work that you have all enabled. I just want to highlight a few key outcomes we all can be proud of in Africa. We protected the Loisaba Conservancy, a 56,000-acre reserve in Kenya that is essential for elephant movement and various other endangered plains game. We secured a commitment to establish 400,000-square-kilometers of marine protected areas in the Seychelles, the biggest in the West Indian Ocean. Our Gabon program formally launched with approval of the Gabonese government for TNC to work there. Fundraising success helped us leverage over $21 million in public funding, including $12.4 million from USAID for our Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative.  

This is really great stuff that is built on a firm foundation of wisdom from others and the strong flow of support and collaboration we share with all of you. We feel your energy in everything we do, and we can’t thank you enough for helping us build something that will last for generations to come.  

Thanks for a great 2015 and we look forward to more successes in 2016.

David Banks, Regional Managing Director, TNC Africa Program




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