The Bateleurs
Giving Conservation Wings

© Karl Svendsen

Named after a raptor that spends most of its day in flight, the Bateleurs are a group of pilots who donate their time and their 'wings' to worthy conservation causes. Currently they have more than 115 pilot members who are prepared to fly their planes, helicopters or microlights for worthy causes in conservation. The Bateleurs will take to the air for a variety of reasons to teach and inform students, policy makers and news media, to transport and track wildlife, to expose illegal activities, to raise funds for the environment, help parks and nature reserves basically all worthy conservation issues will be considered.

The group was formed in 1998, and has now flown over a hundred missions, with more than 20 being completed in 2004 alone. They have helped the National Geographic Society perform the African Megaflyover Project in South Africa, translocated lions for South African National Parks, tigers for Save China's Tigers Trust, counted pelicans, looked for Giant Sable in Angola, as well as many other less glamorous sounding but equally important missions.

They are currently hoping to use their resources to raise awareness of the raising of the Massingir Dam wall, a project that will flood a unique gorge of the Olifants River in the Kruger National Park. The Bateleurs have been given a special award from the Aero Club of South Africa, "For the promotion of the Use of Microlight Aircraft in Nature Conservation." It only costs R150 to join the Bateleurs.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Nora Kreher on (011) 646 0175 or email

Bateleurs pilots Justin Bass and Chris Rattray covered a phenomenal 14 600 km in just under two weeks during their mission to help count elephants in Kenya's famous Tsavo National Park. A team of 60 pilots, spotters, GIS specialists and observers gathered for the count. Approximately 10,400 elephants and many other species were counted in the 20,000 sq/km park. Tsavo is one of the largest National Parks in the world, and slightly larger than Kruger.

The terrain varies from hot flat arid scrubland in the northeast to savannah in the southwest. Several ranges of high hills are scattered across the park which is cut by several major rivers. The total flying time for the mission - 75 hours. -

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