Conservationist Bradley Gibbons, Newcastle’s environmental guardian

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Driven by an immense passion for the environment, Bradley Gibbons is a man known for his career as a nature conservationist. Constantly striving to do his part in making a positive impact on the world around him.

Working for the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Bradley explains there is more to conservation than merely watching wildlife; while sipping on a cool drink.

“Each day is different from the previous, however, there is a lot of travelling and admin work that I have to do,” he begins.

Starting his career in 2002, based in Memel for crane conservation, Bradley’s workload has grown to such an extent, that he is now involved with three different projects.

The first project revolves around Sungazer Lizard conservation. A project which requires Bradley to ensure the species does not fall victim to mankind’s pursuit of development or need for money.

“Sungazer lizards need virgin, unspoiled grasslands. They cannot be relocated from their respective habitats, or else they will die. This sees me interact with various landowners, ensuring they do not plough lands where there are Sungazer lizards or attempt to move them.”

Bradley also ensures habitats are not targeted by those dealing in the pet trade.

“It is illegal to trade with Sungazer Lizards or even own them as a pet. Anyone caught selling or owning a Sungazer Lizard can be arrested and face legal repercussions.”

He also does workshops with farm owners and their employees, educating them what to do if they find Sungazers on their respective properties.

Bradley’s second project revolves around crane conservation. This project sees Bradley travel around Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Free State and Southern Mpumalanga, protecting the three different species.

As the cranes are dependant on the wetlands, Bradley advocates for the protection of wetlands and does extensive monitoring and awareness initiatives around the wetlands and cranes.

“One of the biggest threats to cranes is powerlines, as the cranes do not always see them when they are flying. This results in them either sustaining severe injuries or being electrocuted. However, Eskom and Endangered Wildlife Trust have established a partnership to avoid cranes and other birds being killed.”

Bradley explains Eskom puts a device, nicknamed a flapper, onto the powerlines. This allows cranes and other large birds to see the powerlines, giving them enough time to divert their flight pattern.

A second threat to cranes is poisoning. As this is a criminal act, Bradley does educational awareness and ensures the relevant laws are upheld.

The third project that Bradley is involved with, involves the eastern part of the Great Escarpment. This is the mountain range fondly known as the Drakensberg.

Bradley’s focus revolves around conserving the water sources on the mountains, which supplies the bulk of the water for several of the rivers running through South Africa.

A stewardship programme is run in the area, where landowners make a commitment to conserve the lands and water supplies, ensuring they are protected. Thereby, ensuring the continuity of the water and respective species in the area.

Bradley explains the creation of the stewardship programmes is largely thanks to the WWF and fellow conservationist, Angus Burns.

Dedicating much of his time to his career, why does Bradley enjoy his career so much?

“I have always loved the outdoors and natures. Despite it being difficult to try and save the environment and the species, at least I am trying to make a positive impact on the world around me. People don’t always appreciate the water that flows out of their taps or the different species around them. I am just trying to do my part in making a difference in my community and make a positive contribution to the world around me.”

As Bradley dedicates his life to conservation, we salute his efforts in ensuring that nature has a fighting chance to develop and grow alongside mankind.

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