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Cessna Update

The mission of the Cessna 206 in southern Africa (see Cessna History below) was successfully accomplished and the aircraft was returned to the United States in early 2000. At that time it was refurbished and its electronic systems, communication and navigation equipment upgraded. The aircraft commenced antipoaching operations and humanitarian missions in Baja California, Mexico, in mid-2000.

The Cessna has operated very successfully for nearly six years patrolling the California gray whale migration routes to spot, photograph and report illegal whalers. In addition, the shores of Baja California are being patrolled to protect endangered sea turtles and their nesting sites from turtle and egg poachers.

As an adjunct to its conservation mission, the Cessna is engaged in a humanitarian role under Wilderness Conservancy’s “Project CARE.” Kaiser Permanente Hospital of Panorama City generously donated to Project CARE medical supplies and equipment, office equipment and furniture and patient waiting room furniture which enabled Wilderness Conservancy to fully equip a small clinic in the village of Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico. In addition, and thanks to the gifts-in-kind of several individuals interested in helping handicapped children obtain an education and practical skills, Project CARE provided the Special Education school in that village with computers, wood working tools, school supplies, pediatric wheel chairs, crutches, etc. Humanitarian support of this nature helps Wilderness Conservancy greatly in accomplishing its conservation mission.

In late 2005 the engine, propeller and windows were replaced. This was required due to the wear of operating on dirt, gravel and sea shell airstrips experienced in both Africa and Baja California. Much gratitude is extended to the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan for helping fund the repair work.

Cessna History

The Cessna 206 utility aircraft that was purchased by a grant from the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan and completely refurbished by Wings of Hope in St. Louis, MO, was put into a joint conservation and humanitarian role in September, 1998. It was in service with the Wildlife Breeding Resource Centre (WBRC) which is headquartered at the Atomic Energy facility near Pretoria, South Africa. The WBRC is detailed in the section of this web site entitled "Projects & Results" and under it "Antipoaching Aircraft" and "Humanitarian Aircraft."

The Endangered Species Protection Unit: In addition to its role with the WBRC, the Cessna served with the Endangered Species Protection Unit (ESPU) of the South African Police. The ESPU is dedicated to the protection of endangered species and the detection and apprehension of criminals who poach them and who market the contraband. Superintendent Col. Pieter Lategan heads the ESPU. Both Col. Lategan and the ESPU have received awards and honors from several nations of the world inclusive of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The ESPU also trains similar police teams in nine African nations.

The ESPU used the Cessna to carry officers into Mozambique in furtherance of its mission and in cooperation with the Mozambique police and wildlife departments. While the details of the missions are confidential, there have been huge dents made in poacher gangs operating in Mozambique. During each mission, the ESPU carried and handed out large quantities of medical supplies to villagers and game rangers in remote areas where doctors and other healthcare providers are not present. In addition, on a recent mission to the Pemba area in Mozambique where a cholera epidemic had broken out, the Cessna was instrumental in aiding in the medical survey of the scope of the emergency and assisted in addressing the problem.

WBRC Cheetah and Lion Project: In March 1998 a WBRC program was started with the use of the Cessna. It carried a WBRC team to Namibia where lions and cheetahs were the subject of sperm, egg and embryo collection. As is detailed in the main text of this web site, the WBRC is on the cutting edge of science in assisted reproduction technology, embryo transfer and in vitro (test-tube) fertilization. Its genome resource bank is growing. It involves the collection, processing, cryopreservation and use of gametes (sperm and egg cells), embryos and other biological materials from rare and endangered species. In effect, a third (frozen) population is created, the other two being the populations found in the wild and in captivity. The goal is to introduce genetic diversity in both wild and captive populations so as to avoid the serious problems now manifested worldwide due to inbreeding, and to propagate endangered species so they will not be lost. The WBRC is the only facility in Africa carrying on this science.

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