About the Bateleurs – Flying for the Environment

May 30, 2012


This document serves to introduce to you The Bateleurs – Flying for the Environment in Africa, a South African non-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO) of pilot members, who give their aviation skills, the use of their privately-owned aircraft, and their time, in support of conservation and the environment in Africa.

The Bateleurs serves conservation and the environment by flying  missions for conservation and the environment, free of charge, at the request of policy makers, scientists, community leaders, conservationists and environmentalists.

Briefly, The Bateleurs exists to:

1.     We sign-up, as pilot members of our NGO, people in South Africa and southern Africa who are private pilots and have purchased their own aircraft, and who are willing to volunteer their time and aircraft to fly missions to help other NGOs, et al, engaged with conserving and protecting our environment – land, water, plant- and wild-life;

2.     We connect with these ‘other NGOs’ 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.  We call these organisations ‘beneficiaries’ and there is no charge at all to a beneficiary organisation or individual for a Bateleurs-supported flight;

3.     When a beneficiary asks for a flight to determine the extent of, or record or photograph or otherwise explore, an issue or problem, we review their request and, if it is approved, we find a volunteer pilot willing to fly the mission for them;

4.     We put the volunteer pilot in touch with the beneficiary, the mission is flown, and The Bateleurs reimburses the pilot for the costs of the fuel and landing fees pertaining to each mission.  The only thing that we ask of a beneficiary organisation (and the pilot) is that they provide us with a short report and photographs of the mission – for use in our newsletters, on our website and in our reports to donors.

The Bateleurs is a modest organisation:  we have been in existence since 1998 but employ only one staff member, on a full-time basis, to manage our members, co-ordinate our missions, co-ordinate our fundraising efforts, and generally run the office.  Financial and administrative oversight of the organisation is provided by a nine-member Board of Directors via daily emails and phone calls and monthly meetings. We operate from one office in a private home in Johannesburg, made available to us as an in-kind donation by the home owners.

In monetary terms, the in-kind donation supplied by our pilot members, is immense.  It would be out of the question for an NGO to source the funds to acquire, maintain and insure a fleet of 160 plus light aircraft – plus pay the pilots who fly the environmentally-focused missions requested by beneficiary organisations.  And, in the spirit of the maxim which says “one volunteer is worth twenty pressed men” The Bateleurs is proud to acknowledge that most of our pilot members come looking for us, rather than in response to recruitment drives.

Currently (in May 2012) The Bateleurs has over 180 signed- up pilot members who own their own fixed wing, helicopter, LSA and microlight aircraft.  We also have a number of Ground Members, and, over the years we have flown for more than 150 environmentally concerned organisations, in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola and Kenya.

In addition to flying missions for beneficiaries, The Bateleurs has developed an educational outreach programme called The Bateleurs Bonizwe programme.  (Bonizwe is a Zulu word which means “look at the country”.)  We hope through this aspect of our work to stimulate in young South Africans an awareness of conservation and environmental issues, and perhaps aviation, by providing them  with the hands-on experience of flying, and the advantages and insights which an aerial perspective can provide.  We also have a collaboration with two South African universities, providing their students with the aerial perspective required to perform tasks set for them by their lecturers and tutors. These exercises form part of their formal curriculum each year, for which each student is required to prepare a post-flight report, indicating whether the flight objective was met, or not.

Should you have any queries about The Bateleurs – Flying for the Environment in Africa, please contact us.

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