Our Roots: Resacralize Nature

A sustainable conservation model to tackle major environmental and social injustices coherently, with a focus on elephants.

Our Roots

Age 22, Zimbabwe

PROJECT: A sustainable conservation model to tackle major environmental and social injustices coherently, with a focus on elephants.

Tell us about the work you are doing to create a wilder world.
At Our Roots, we believe that in order to address major conservation issues–such the extinction of elephants–active projects must work together in a cohesive and collaborative manner. Thus, we have decided to build a coalition of four extraordinary projects based around Zimbabwe. These projects are aimed at addressing conservation issues from four different angles(balancing both social and environmental issues fairly); community development, youth empowerment, wildlife rehabilitation, and ecosystem protection. These four area’s represent Our Roots’s pillars which act as a guide for sustainable conservation practices. The coalition has been carefully mapped out in order to address our four pillars effectively and efficiently.

Community Development = The Hide Community Trust. A development project working in rural areas to build trust with communities that lie on the periphery of wilderness areas. THCT is working on implementing sustainable agricultural techniques, and holistic methods to mitigate human/wildlife conflict.

Youth Empowerment = Youth for Nature, Africa. A society of young Zimbabweans passionate about nature working together to develop environmental programs for rural schools. Currently YfNA are working on a prototype for a “Nature Club” which will provide a space for rural children to learn about critical environmental information. The Nature Club is being developed in collaboration with THCT.

Wildlife rehabilitation = Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery. My mother has been rehabilitating wildlife for over 20 years, and has successfully rehabilitated more than 15 different species of wild animals. Recently she fulfilled a life-long dream to build a nursery for young elephant orphans, where currently she is rehabilitating 5 baby elephants–all of the elephants will be released back into the wild. These intimate and complicated relationships with wildlife provide opportunities to further understand wildlife in both a scientific and holistic manner.

Ecosystem Protection = Nyatana Anti-Poaching Unit. A team of 11 highly trained scouts risking their lives everyday to not only protect elephants but also entire ecosystems. NAPU has the daunting task of patrolling 55,000 hectares of wilderness on foot as resources for these types of exploits are limited. Whilst we acknowledge the importance of a militarized approach in certain circumstances we believe it is a short-term approach to a deeply rooted systemic problem–thus we require our unit to actively engage with community, where crop protection is a key component to anti-poaching.

As seen above, this coalition is well equipped to tackle major conservation issues from a diverse set of angles. Through collaboration, cohesive and sustainable conservation practices are built between projects.

Our Roots offers financial incentives, we build long-term action plans, and facilitate bi-monthly meetings to gel projects together. This collective intelligence allows for efficient problem-solving, dynamic support, diverse opinions, transparent financial records, and long-term planning. We believe that a successful program to protect Zimbabwe’s elephants will represent a major turning point in Zimbabwe’s future. Only through a dynamic, diverse and sustainable conservation model can we ever dream of this being possible.


What are five (5) of your short term goals to accomplish in the next 1-2 years?
1. 5 and 10 year action plan for coalition mapped out and agreed upon by all respective parties(July 2016)
2. $100,000 raised(January 2017)
3. 3 school partners in America.(December 2016)
4. Recruitment of board of directors(December 2016)
5. For-profit model finalized(May 2017)
6. Active Social media presence(December 2016)


What are five (5) of your long term goals to accomplish in the next 5-10 years?
1. For-profit model sustains all operating costs.
2. Active and engaged donors/philanthropists = $1 million dollars worth of fundraising by 2022
3. Disrupting major international conservation conferences with empowered youth driving sustainable and innovative conservation practices.
4. Sustainable populations of elephants in Zimbabwe:
(i) Communities value wildlife/ecosystems,
(ii) Empowered youth drive innovative enterprise inspired by fair trade principles,
(iii) Successful rehabilitation of elephants back into the wild,
(iiii) Anti-poaching unit with 100% success rate in both ecosystem/wildlife protection, and crop protection.


How can others help you accomplish these goals?
– Social media campaigns
– Crowd-funding campaigns
– Sales of merchandise
– Fundraising
– Attending/putting on events
– Videographers
– Journalists
– Internships
– Volunteering


How can the public get involved with your project/work?
– Social Media Campaigns
– Trips to Zimbabwe to visit the projects
– Buying merchandise
– Participating in fundraising
– Attending events


What have been some successes you have had?
– Coalition have signed 5 year collaborative agreement.
– Support from Brian Makare (Board of Nature Conservancy-Africa Council)
– Mentorship from Vance Martin(Founder: The Wild Foundation)
– Watson University 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship.
– Our Roots(LLC): Zimbabwe.
– Support from UASUSA drone manufactures and designers(Skip Miller: CEO)
– 28 children agree to be ‘elephant warriors’.


Any words of advice or wisdom? Anything else you want to tell the world?
We, a whole generation of human beings, are sitting on the edge of a cliff–below lies a pool of boiling water where life has ceased to exist.

It seems we have a choice, either, we allow ourselves to pushed off of the edge by the people who got us here in the first place, or we stand up and be counted for. We take responsibility, and begin looking at new ways of tackling old problems–we turn away from the boiling pit, and unite in saving our magnificent planet(the only one we have), together, so that all life may live in habitual habitats. Human-centered systemic problems deserve human-centered systematic solutions–individual efforts are no longer enough to resurrect our planet, we must unite in a collective movement towards more sustainable social and environmental practices. The two are married, and neither can be solved without the support of the other.

We believe that a successful program to protect Zimbabwe's elephants will represent a major turning point in Zimbabwe's future. Only through a dynamic, diverse and sustainable conservation model can we ever dream of this being possible.

Children are receptive and empathetic in engaging with content. They play an extremely important role in conservation because they have a vested interest in the future of our planet.

The design thinking framework is the most effective way to facilitate collaboration.