Earth Sanctuaries Ltd. Goes Belly Up

Earth Sanctuaries Ltd., an innovative Australian company, has gone bankrupt. Run by the unorthodox and outspoken John Wamsley and later by his wife, Prudence (Proo) Geddes, Earth Sanctuaries Ltd. (ESL) was Australia’s most ambitious attempt at private sector conservation. ESL successfully reintroduced 25 mammal species to their former range and eradicated feral cats, foxes, rabbits, and goats from more than 10,000 hectares. At its peak of land ownership in 2001, ESL owned 10 sanctuaries covering more than 90,000 hectares.

ESL bred the platypus, and saved several species from extinction, including Australia’s most primitive kangaroo, the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), the numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), and the woylie (Bettongia penicillata).

ESL may be gone, but its innovations will have a lasting influence on conservation in Australia.

Proo Geddes still emphasises “the importance of having a conservation entity based on outcomes rather than processes”.

Good on ya, Proo.

More on this Australian blog.


11 thoughts on “Earth Sanctuaries Ltd. Goes Belly Up

  1. Does anyone know of any other entrepreneurial nature conservation venture that have been successful which I could read about – or even contact the owners of? I am interested in learning about various experiences, and models….as I wish to lead my publishing company into eco-conservation projects.

    Thank you,

    Peter Gottesman

  2. Peter,
    In previous posts I have mentioned the conservancy movement in Namibia, Ndarakwai in Tanzania, and the North Atlantic Salmon Foundation. For an interesting ecotourism venture, see The Laikipia Forum i Kenya, although there are problems with ecotourism, also previously mentioned in a post. Also see the Daily & Ellison book, listed on the Bookshelf page.

  3. Peter Gottesman asked for any other models of entrepreneurial nature conservation. Have a look at Banrock Station, ( a winery in the Murray Riverlands area of South Australia which is run on ecological principles. A portion of the profit from every bottle sold goes to conservation projects, from reinstating the bush and wetlands at Banrock station to saving the Atlantic salmon in Canada

  4. Answering Peter Gottesman: welcome to check out Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd (CHICOP) in Zanzibar/Tanzania:… it took a lot of struggle and investment, but it works! See our website for details and a summary below…

    DESCRIPTION: Chumbe Island is situated 8 miles southwest of Zanzibar Town and covers an area of approximately 20 ha. It is an uninhabited island dominated by coral rag forest and bordered, on its western shore, by a fringing coral reef of exceptional biodiversity and beauty. Based on the initiative of Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd (CHICOP), a private company created for the creation and management of the Chumbe nature reserve, the island was gazetted in 1994 as a protected area by the Government of Zanzibar, and is exclusively managed by CHICOP.

    This created the first marine park in Tanzania, and to our knowledge also the first and only private marine park in the world. The reserve includes a reef sanctuary and protected forest and has become a rare example of a still pristine coral island ecosystem in an otherwise heavily over-exploited area. Ater a translocation program, the island has become a breeding sanctuary for the rarest antelope in the world, the endemic Aders duikers (Cephalophus adersi) and the world’s largest known population concentration of the rare Coconut crabs (Birgus latro).

    The objectives of the Chumbe Island Coral Park (CHICOP) project are non-commercial, while operations follow commercial principles. The overall aim of CHICOP is to create a model of sustainable conservation area management where ecotourism supports conservation and education. Profits from the tourism operations are re-invested in conservation area management and and Environmental education program for local schoolchildren and their teachers.

    About two thirds of the investment costs of approximately 1 million US$ were financed privately by the project initiator (a conservationist and former manager of donor-funded aid projects). Several project components, such as the construction of the visitors centre, biological baseline surveys, the Aders’ duikers sanctuary, the park rangers patrol boats and nature trails received some funding from donors, e.g. GTZ-GATE, GTZ-EM, the German Tropical Forest Stamp Program, EC-Microprojects, the Netherlands Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the WWF-Tanzania, the International School Schloss Buchhof, Munich, among others. This covered about a third of the investment costs. More than 60 volunteers from several countries provided, and continue to provide, crucial professional support for between one month to three years.

    Running costs are now fully covered from income generated through ecotourism. Seven two-bed eco-bungalows offer accommodation for up to 14 guests. All buildings on the island are based on close to zero-impact eco-technology concerning energy and water provision and waste disposal: rainwater catchment, composting toilets, photovoltaics and solar water heating, vegetative greywater filtration etc.

    The project employed and trained former fishers from adjacent villages as park rangers and stationed them on the island. They patrol the reef and the island’s coral-rag forest habitat, keep daily monitoring records on any observations, assist researchers and guide foreign and local visitors over the marine and terrestrial nature trails.

    Permitted uses of the marine park include recreation (swimming, snorkeling, underwater photography), education and research. Extractive and destructive activities, such as fishing, anchorage, collection of specimens (even for research) are not allowed. Research is co-ordinated with the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam and regulated by the Chumbe Island Management Plans 1995-2005 and 2006-2016.

    A historic lighthouse, built by the British in 1904, is kept functioning and is now used by the traditional dhows that have no modern means of navigation. A protected historic mosque on the island is left untouched and still used daily by the Chumbe staff on the island. This is one of the few mosques of Indian architecture in Zanzibar, built for the Indian lighthouse keepers by their community at the turn of the century. The former lighthouse keepers’ house has been carefully restored and converted into a visitors centre that harbours the restaurant and exhibits of environmental information about the island reserve for all guests, and a classroom for the Environmental education program.

  5. My wife and I bought the freehold of Warrawong in June 2006 and started running the trading operations in December 2006 after our tennant failed.Warrawong is now a thriving and successful eco tourism operation.With its free sanctuary entry between 9am and 4pm and a refurb of the accomodation Warrawong can now offer a balance of eco tourism and commercial facets to fund the sustainability of this business.A combination of commercialism vs.conservation allows there to be a stable income stream thus contributing to the overall sustainability.Conferances,a well directed schools programme[over 10 000 kids per year encompasing over night stays and day excursions],nocturnal walks,accomodation and the cafe are just some of the income streams.

    Warrawong is alive and well!

  6. I would exercise caution in dealing with Mr. Gottesman and/or Mythix. You would have to check with organizations in which he has “donated” gifts to fund his Conservation Charity…some auction donors, like myself, have not received their items as promised by Mr. Gottesman and Mythix. Mythix Charity took our money-as of today-18 months later they have not fulfilled their commitment. Calls to Mythix, emails, etc went unanswered. Charity may have gone belly up?? HOWEVER, only an independent investigation would determine if this was or wasn’t a fraud from the beginning. Make sure you investigate thoroughly before “donating your money” to these type of charities and their CEOS. I wonder if these funds lined the pockets of the CEO? In an age of questionable ethics on the part of businesses and individuals—make sure you investigate—especially if they’ve moved on to another business. Beware!

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