Guest Blog

Earth Lover: Making a difference by Sarah Forderer

Hi, we are two sister who want to make a difference.

Why did we start Earth Lover?
From a young age we were both highly aware of the damage being done to the planet.

We always tried to look for more sustainable options in our everyday lives. We generally tried to buy second hand as and where we could and make do with what we had. We appreciated though that not everyone wanted to do this so we wanted to be able to give people a choice to buy better and make simple swaps.  We started Earth Lover in 2020. Earth Lover is an online sustainable living store providing ethical alternatives that have a low impact on the planet. Our range covers clothing, bathroom, kitchen, cleaning, homeware, accessories and gifts.


The Journey
After spending a number of years working in the chaos of the general rat race, I decided I wanted to follow a childhood dream and that dream was Africa. Heidi had been to South Africa a number of times as her husband was from here. I visited back in 2001 and simply fell in love with this incredible environment.

In 2006 I signed up for a 1-year Field guiding training course run by Ulovane Environmental Training. The course was based on a game reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. We lived in tents and were surrounded by the African bush and it’s incredible wildlife, Elephants, Rhino’s, Zebra, Giraffes and so much more. We would walk out amongst the wildlife every day and often slept out on the reserve. We were taught over 25 different subjects over the first six months. These covered everything from the soil to the stars and this is when I truly understood how in nature everything has a purpose. After we had completed all out exams, we were given a placement at a lodge where we would take guests on safari 2-3 times a day.

I continued guiding for a number of years and Heidi often came to visit. I then got the opportunity to return to the guiding school and teach new budding wildlife warriors. It was during my time here that my passion for the marine world bloomed. An additional course that was added to the student’s studies was a marine guiding qualification. We spent many hours down by the coast and through my teachings I started to really appreciate the devastating effects humans were having on the oceans and their eco systems. This definitely fuelled a fire within me to do what I could to raise awareness to the oceans plight. During a trip to Thailand Heidi has also seen first-hand the horrendous impact of plastic pollution.

After my time at the training school my husband and I moved to run a small safari camp in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). We lived in the middle of a forest with no electricity and just the hyaneas and bushbabies for our evening entertainment. This beautiful country had been previously been devastated by poaching. The stack of rhino skulls at our main reception was testimony to this horrific trade. We had experienced the utter loss of rhino poaching on our previous reserve and still cannot comprehend the mentality of anyone who can partake in this wildlife crime. Thankfully the populations with eSwatini had improved greatly due to the incredibly work of local conservationist and a zero tolerance to poaching.

We didn’t stay on this reserve for long, only about a year as we got the opportunity to run a reserve based in Kwa Zulu Natal. This was a private reserve dedicated to rehabilitating the lands and protecting the species that had been reintroduced. This was an unbelievable opportunity for us and yet also very daunting.

It was a 24 hour role and it brough many challenges poaching, drought, bush fires to name a few. But we embraced our role and our responsibility to protect the wildlife in our care. We saw Leopards that had been very evasive from the area (due to previous high levels of human conflict in previous year) gradually start to return to the environment. We even had a rogue Hyaena join us. We are still not sure where it came from but it found a safe place with us. We managed to increase many of our wildlife populations including the incredibly precious rhino and giraffes.

One of the most rewarding projects we undertook was to create a bonding project for the critically endangered African Wild Dogs. Our role was to build a large boma with two sides set far into the reserve where there would be minimal human interaction. We would then receive male and female dogs and for a while keep them separate. We would then undertake numerous behavioural studies to see which animals interacted appropriately with others. The aim of the project was to create new breeding groups that would released into new wilderness areas to hopefully allow this incredible species numbers to increase. This project continues to this day.

Heidi and her family often visited us on the reserves where we worked and when I returned to the UK with our young family, we really wanted to continue raising awareness. Often on nights when i would be undertaking anti-poaching patrols I would be sitting in the darkness just looking for anything suspicious and I would think where is everybody? Why are we sitting here alone? why is nobody helping us. Rhino poaching was at its peak during my time in Africa. Over 1,000 rhinos were being poached every year. I then realised that perhaps people just weren’t aware. I often spoke to my guests about it and they were shocked and didn’t understand the magnitude of it. David Attenborough once said

“No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced” and this is so true. I was living amongst these animals day in day out and of course I would be aware of what was going on. So, through Earth Lover we not only want to encourage sustainable living but also to create a love of the natural environment.

Sarah @earthloveruk

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