Conservation Meeting Series: MATT BRACKEN of Wild & Free - February 6, 2020
Matt Bracken is founder and president of Wild and Free Foundation, a registered non-profit in the USA dedicated to saving the African rhinoceros from extinction. In 2011, after ten years in the African photographic safari industry, Matt Bracken became the first American to graduate from Protrack Anti-Poaching Ranger Training in South Africa, his mission was to protect rhinos from poachers. However, over time it became clear to Matt that the military approach to saving rhinos has severe limitations and unintended consequences. In 2014 Matt founded Wild and Free Foundation to curtail the extinction of the African rhino by engaging and uplifting the communities living next to rhinos where most rhino poachers come from. Matt has gone from hating the poachers to helping the poachers, and that has made all the difference. Matt’s story will explain what is happening to rhinos, why they are worth saving, and what Wild and Free is doing about it. It’s a story from his own eyes, filled with passion, challenges, open-mindedness, trust, and hope.
“Football is called the greatest game – so why can’t the greatest game save the greatest animal?”
2019 was an exciting year. With your help, we had the privilege of sponsoring two men’s soccer teams in the Rhino Cup Champions League. Our Hemingway Safaris’ team the Freitas Tigers, came in third place! Hemingway Safaris is especially excited about the new woman’s soccer league that started in July. The main objective of the league is to provide a platform for the girls to fight against rhino poaching. Over 800 young, fit and out-of-work kids who turned to poaching, have been killed by rangers. This killing has not slowed rhino poaching. By thinking outside-of-the-box with soccer, we are slowly winning. Soccer is uplifting the community and through it, we have gained trust with the people. This paves the way for other programs that assist in economic growth and sustainability like farming and tourism. We applaud Matt Bracken and Wild & Free for the work they are doing in Mozambique. Please consider donating or sponsoring a soccer team. It will make all the difference for Africa’s rhinos.