Mission & History
Mzuri Wildlife Foundation was founded in 1969 to promote the protection and preservation of wildlife. The Foundation has distributed nearly $5 million in grants to wildlife conservation efforts around the world. The Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt public foundation qualified under Internal Revenue Service Code 501(c)(3), making all contributions to the MWF tax deductible.
The name Mzuri comes from the Swahili word for “good.” The Foundation was conceived and established by a group of individuals who had hunted all over the world and who wanted to do what they could to protect the wildlife and landscapes they loved. These individuals were members of the Mzuri Safari Club which was formed in 1958 by a small group of safari enthusiasts to promote fellowship, sportsmanship and the sharing of safari experiences between its members and guests. The club’s members realized that collectively they could make a difference for wildlife. Dedicated members put their talent, time and their own money together to create and endow the Mzuri Safari Foundation, the predecessor to today’s Mzuri Wildlife Foundation.
The founders chose to operate the Foundation solely with volunteers in order to maximize the grant funds invested in wildlife conservation. An advisory board of knowledgeable wildlife experts was named to review and recommend action on proposals for grants.
Mzuri Wildlife Foundation began holding biennial conferences. The Foundation recruited the world’s leading wildlife artists to display their work and donate paintings and sculptures to auction off and raise funds for the Foundation’s work. A portion of art sales at the conferences were also donated to the Foundation.
The conferences became some of the most spectacular showings of wildlife artwork ever assembled. The response was overwhelming, attracting supporters from around the globe. Among the scores of people attending the conferences and assisting in the Foundation’s work were the late Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, former Attorney General William Saxbe, U.S. Senators Barry Goldwater and Ted Stevens, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, Marlin Perkins, Joy Adamson, Jacques Piccard, and Ian Player.
Today, Mzuri Wildlife Foundation continues its long tradition of wildlife conservation. Grant awards focus on grassroots organizations and programs where local dedication to a conservation cause can be strengthened with Foundation dollars. Grant proposals are thoroughly investigated, analyzed and appraised before final consideration. The review process involves the Board of Directors, the Grants Committee, and often an authoritative source in the geographic location – such as the local Fish and Game – to positively assure the vital need of the program and projected result.
The wildlife protections Mzuri Wildlife Foundation supports benefit all species of native plants and animals in the region. Whether the project’s goal is the eradication of non-indigenous plants, or stopping poaching in its tracks, the MWF’s money is targeted towards conserving natural resources. It is understood that healthy habitats support both flora and fauna, and that once it is lost, it is lost forever.
Past projects have included: assisting in the purchase and delivery of a helicopter to game officials in Zambia to assist their anti-poaching efforts; funding raptor research and habitat conservation through the Raptor Research foundation in South Dakota; contributing to the effort to increase the range land for Tule Elk in the Owens Valley; contributing to the effort to stop poaching in the Serengeti National Park; working with the Friedkin Foundation in Tanzania to encourage the area’s population to understand the value of preserving the remaining wild habitat; participating in a joint project with the Big Horn Foundation to preserve California’s desert Bighorn Sheep and their habitat; working with the Nature Conservancy to save vital nesting areas from development; and continuous support of Cal-Tip, California’s anti-poaching network working with California Fish & Game.
There are indelible visions left in the soul of the sportsman: the flight that arrives over the blind in the brilliant red sunrise; the scampering flag of a whitetail deer; the dog-like bark and retreating hoofs of the bush buck; the bugling elk silhouetted in a reddish-blue patina at sunset. There are impressions of the great outdoor cathedral that motivate an unspoken oath dedicated to preservation.