The Sidekick Foundation® is a family-founded foundation that all began with Fred and Suzie Fehsenfeld’s many trips to Kenya over the last 30 years. During their extensive travels throughout Kenya, they saw a need for investing in passionate conservation-focused people that were making a difference in protecting elephants and their key habitats. What started out as charitable giving soon emerged into a public 501(c)3 foundation that is still funded, at its core, by the Fehsenfeld family.
Founded in 2011 as the ESCAPE Foundation, we focused our efforts and funding on combating the illegal killing of elephants. We focused our support on boots on the ground initiatives to stop poaching and international organizations aimed at combatting the root causes behind the demand for ivory. This initial focus proved successful with organizations such as Stop Ivory, Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) and Save the Elephants (STE) all raising awareness internationally about the urgent action that needed to be taken to address the plight of elephants. In addition, increased levels of funding were secured through organizations, such as the Tusk Trust, to support efforts around the globe by governments, conservationists and citizens seeking to protect elephants and other endangered species.
As those organizations continued to make their mark after our catalytic funding, we re-focused our efforts into protecting and restoring endangered and threatened wildlife species in the Maasai Mara by being a core funder for boots on the ground initiatives. These projects are not only addressing poaching, but as they become successful in their areas of operation, are also addressing human-elephant conflict. Through the continued funding provided by the Sidekick Foundation®, organizations such as the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) are the leaders in protecting elephants.
The number of elephants being poached for their ivory has reduced in the areas where such organizations provide enhanced protection in partnership with the Kenyan Wildlife Service and others. In contrast, numbers of killed elephants and other endangered species continue to rise due to the illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and loss of habitat in unprotected areas. In order to sustainably conserve these declining species, it is imperative to secure their existing habitats and re-establish former rangelands. The protection of elephants and the protection of the communities living alongside them will take strong political leadership, partnerships and an increase in stakeholders’ willingness to work together towards a common goal.
We can reach this goal by encouraging the collaboration of world-class talent and local expertise. We are the sidekick to the next generation of conservation heroes risking and dedicating their lives in an ever-changing complex world with challenging and diverse issues in the field. The Sidekick Foundation® maintains a strong organization to support our conservation heroes.