The Bateleurs is the largest non-profit environmental flying organisation in Africa. We fly to educate through an aerial perspective of environmental issues. Our organisation provides a unique service, proven by a meaningful and incident-free twelve years of delivery to conservation and the environment in Southern Africa.
We have been in existence since 1998 and employ only one staff member on a full-time basis, to manage our members, co-ordinate our missions, co-ordinate our fundraising efforts, and manage our one and only office in Johannesburg. By far our largest sponsor is our pilots. We estimate that the free provision of their aircraft and time constitutes around 70% of the total value of services. Currently we have 161 signed up pilot members, plus 11 ground members, and over the years we have flown for approximately 130 environmentally concerned organisations, in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola and Kenya. Of late we are doing more and more flights concerned with conserving and protecting endangered species, and more and more missions concerned with the impacts of legal and illegal mining.
We are proud of the fact that our pilot members and our beneficiaries come looking for us, rather than the other way round. There are many concerned aviators willing to make a contribution to the environment and conservation; there is also a community of beneficiaries who have a great need for an aerial perspective, but not the means. The Bateleurs is the marriage between these parties. Our heroes are our pilot members, whose contribution in time and monetary terms is immense. Consider the alternatives and there is simply no way that any non-profit organisation could source the funds to acquire, maintain and insure a fleet of 160 plus light aircraft – fixed wing, microlights and helicopters – nor could our beneficiaries muster the funds with which to charter the aerial support they need. Our pilot members do this free of charge for their community and for our collective future.
The fundraising environment in South Africa has become very tough indeed, with the community of funded organisations competing for scarce resources. This is further impacted by those agencies working in support of human tragedy issues – poverty, homelessness, hunger, health, education, etc. – issues that are immediate and which often take precedence. But here is something for all of us to think about: humanity must always rely for its fundamental support and wellbeing on a healthy environment – wholesome and productive land, abundant and well-stocked rivers, wetlands and oceans, and well managed populations of domestic and wild animals, bird- and marine life.
In a little more detail this is what The Bateleurs does -:
Concerned and qualifying private pilots, who have their own aircraft and are willing to volunteer their time and their aircraft, join The Bateleurs in order to fly missions. These missions are for the purpose of assisting any person, body or institution to conserve and protect our environment – land, water, seas, plant- and wild-life.
We connect with these institutions and government departments, educators, researchers, parks and reserves, the media, etc., and offer them an aerial perspective of the problems or issues that they are addressing or researching. We call these organisations ‘beneficiaries’ and there is no charge at all to any beneficiary for a Bateleurs-supported flight.
When a beneficiary asks for a flight – to determine the extent of, or to record or photograph or otherwise explore, an issue or a problem – we review their request and, if it is not for any commercial gain and if it can be approved logistically, we source a member (volunteer) pilot willing to fly the mission.
We put the volunteer pilot in touch with the beneficiary, and the mission is briefed and flown. As a partial measure of compensation, which does not come close to the considerable donation made by the pilot, The Bateleurs will provide an ex gratia compensation to the pilot, a payment which will never exceed the value of the fuel burn for a particular mission flown.
We do not fly for the benefit of any commercial enterprise, and we do not transport people from place to place.
All that we ask of a beneficiary organisation is that they provide us with a short report and photographs of the mission – for use in our newsletters, on our website and in feedback reports to our donors.
Our Board of Directors is dedicated to ensuring the continued success of The Bateleurs and the positive impact it has on the environment and conservation in South Africa and our neighbouring countries.
It is well-recognised that The Bateleurs provides a very useful service. Proof of this can be seen in the number and variety of beneficiary organisations for whom we have flown since 1998, and who continue to request our assistance. Over the years many philanthropists and corporates, seeking to address their corporate social investment responsibilities, have willingly supported us. Please assist The Bateleurs in expanding its supporter base by introducing to us anyone who you believe will be similarly motivated.