Pik Botha hands the Meerkat Trophy to Terry Scott and

Ivan Parkes from Thorntree Conserevancy


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is honoured to have been invited to judge the entries for the 2005 Meerkat Conservancy Awards. The EWT has focussed primarily on the conservation of biodiversity, threatened species and critical ecosystems outside of the formal protected area network for more than 30 years and we applaud the efforts of your members to take responsibility for our precious natural resources through these powerful, and inspirational custodian programmes


The judging was an inspiring, but daunting task, due to the exceptional quality and high standard of all the nominees. It was extremely tough to choose winners, but before I give you the details of who was chosen in the end, I would like to pass on some general insights into the applications as well as details of the criteria against which applications were judged.


General insights:

  1. The presentation of the applications was on the whole, outstanding and one can clearly discern the passion and commitment of the members.

  2. The EWT is familiar with some of the conservancies but not all and therefore it was determined that all applications would be judged as if no prior knowledge of the conservancy existed in the mind of the judge. This therefore meant that applications were judged on the quality of the information presented, the level of detail given and the substantive content. Many applications assumed a prior knowledge of the conservancy and lacked basic information on, for example, the conservancy size, location, age, membership size, ecosystem type, registration and so on. This made it difficult for the judges to get a clear picture of the conservancy in their mind.

  3. It was not clear if clear guidelines and criteria had been given to the applicants and if they were encouraged to follow these, as some seemed to refer to guidelines and questions and others not. For ease of judging, a standard format and clear guidelines with set criteria would help greatly, and if these were indeed set, only a small handful of applicants followed these. This is important for applicants too, as some of the information which would have helped them to win is missing simply because they “skipped” a question or criterion.


Judging criteria:

The applications were judged against the following criteria or benchmarks, though not all of these had to be met by one conservancy:

  1. Existence of a constitution and a management plan

  2. Involvement of local communities in projects and the conservancy as a whole

  3. Active involvement of many members and not just one or two key people

  4. involvement of children through activities as well as educational work

  5. Active fundraising programmes

  6. Governance (financial management, meetings, administration etc)

  7. Employment and livelihood opportunities generated by the conservation and its projects

  8. Active involvement in development applications, industrial activities, rezoning processes, housing applications etc.

  9. Networking: with other conservancies, conservation organisations, local and provincial governmental and conservation authorities etc.

  10. Active involvement in and support of the GCA

  11. Availability of species lists and educational material

  12. Achievements: can it be clearly demonstrated where and how the conservancy has made a difference? Are these documented?

  13. The conservation of areas and relics of both biodiversity and cultural importance


Therefore, one can see that the quality of the information provided, significantly raised the chances of an application for being in line for an award.

It is the opinion of the EWT that an annual report of each conservancy, detailing achievements, projects, activities, governance, growth etc would be a valuable tool, not only for this kind of award review but for the general public and other interested parties, at large.

As mentioned, the choice was EXTREMELY tough (which is why we have chosen 3 runners-up!) but in the end, our choice is as follows



Thorntree Conservancy

This was a clear winner, supported by 2 assistant judges at the EWT! It was the strongest application across all the criteria, and most of all, appeared to be the most sustainable with the broadest range of outputs. 



  1. Rhenosterpsruit Conservancy

  2. Seringveld Conservancy

  3. Benoni Agricultural Holding Conservancy


These nominations all demonstrated a broad range of activities, strong networking and partnerships, effective outcomes and achievements to-date, strong community outreach and educational programmes, sound governance (a constitution, GCA involvement, fundraising, a management plan etc), species lists and so on. Not all had the same strong points but across the range, these applications were very strong. 


Finally, should you wish to have the EWT involved in this award in the future, we would be pleased to offer you a floating trophy from the Endangered Wildlife Trust for future winners. Please let me know if you would like us to pursue this.

Once again, thank-you for inviting the EWT to be a judge. We welcome the opportunity to support the Gauteng and National Conservancy Associations and are available for any future assistance and support you may need.