Cycle of Life 2008

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

"5000 miles of rural African poverty; 25 conservation projects in seven African countries; four months on the road; and nothing but pedal power to get us through it.

These are the challenges facing the Cycle of Life Expedition in 2008.

Two city professionals, two post-graduate students, two young homeless people, and one rural African will make the trip."


Cycle of Life 2008

Ever felt so strongly about something that you not only changed your life, but the lives of many others?

HRH Prince William, Royal Patron of Centrepoint and Tusk Trust, has said, "Rural African initiatives that foster education, responsibility and participation in the local community light the way for conservation. They go hand-in-hand with sustainable social and economic development in remote areas. The Cycle of Life expedition promises both to highlight these projects, and to raise the money needed for them to succeed. The expedition has my fullest support."

The Cycle of Life 2008 is an expedition organized around raising money and awareness for "environmentally responsible community development projects in rural Africa."

The Tusk Trust is an organization that protects wildlife, supports communities, and promotes education. UK-based, they have over 17 years of experience as an African Wildlife Trust. Their current portfolio of 30 field projects in 17 countries protects wildlife (especially endangered species), encourages the alleviation of poverty and sustainable development, and contributes to endangered species protection. Their support takes place in a variety of ways: vehicles, classrooms and dormitories, wildlife and human clinics, animal sanctuaries, buildings, water tanks, airplanes, the Safaricom marathon, marine wildlife, construction, water projects, employment of locals for community construction projects, and goods and equipment.

I recently had the good fortune to interview a member of the Cycle of Life team, Jessica Hatcher, via email. Here's what she had to say...

WE: Tell us a little bit about Cycle of Life 2008...

JH: We are a team of people on bicycles, beginning in Namibia, and finishing in Kenya, some 8,000 km of cycling later. Visiting conservation projects that they are raising money for, and exploring rural communities and ideas for community development en route, we are conservationists with a focus on people.


Cycle of Life 2008

WE: What is the history of Cycle of Life?

JH: The concept for the Cycle of Life was devised by Barty Pleydell-Bouverie about three years ago - he had spent time working at a number of different conservation projects in southern and east africa, and wanted to do something that would bring them all together, benefit each and every one, and focus the attention of conservationists not just on the wildlife in rural areas, but also the people, and how they can best interact with that wildlife. He came up with the idea of bicycling between the conservation projects and getting sponsored in the UK to raise money for them.

WE: Who is participating in Cycle of Life?

JH: The core team is Barty, who is project leader, myself (I'm a good friend of Barty but also filming the expedition), Chris, who is another friend of ours from university and is in charge of the route, logistics etc., and Craig, another friend of Barty who is half ghanaian. For the first five weeks, we were joined by two young people from the UK homelessness charity Centrepoint, Damian and Xavier. Both of them have had tough lives so far, and were able to benefit enormously, I hope, from the experiences they had with us and the challenges we faced together.


Cycle of Life

WE: How can people help, in the Cycle of Life?

JH: What we hope to do is make a difference to the success of rural conservation projects that will in turn improve the lives of people living in those areas. Our fundraising target is 100,000 pounds, which is around $200,000! and we might actually get close to reaching it if we keep the momentum! If anyone would like to donate, the charity that is executing the funds is Tusk Trust and you can donate at - any amount, no matter how small, is so much appreciated!


Cycle of Life 2008


WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

JH: Just that so far, the trip has exceeded all our expectations - some of the projects we've seen have been truly amazing. The highlight for me has been Zimbabwe - we saw no trouble - nothing but friendly, if hungry, faces, and good people, waiting for the end of a regime. The project that we visited there, the Painted Dog Conservation project, is a blueprint for conservation worldwide - in spite of economic climate, it is continuing to expand, currently keeping 64 members of the local community in employment, supporting the local police force, running community vegetable gardens, arts projects and education programmes... and it's just a wild dog conservation project! It made us see just how successful conservation projects that truly involve the local community can be.


Cycle of Life 2008


Our sponsor Artemis has made the whole trip possible, and communications on the road have been made possible by the SatCom Group.

WE: Thank you so much, Jessica, for taking the time to share this during this extraordinary trip! We wish you the best of luck completing this trip of a lifetime.

For more information on the Cycle of life, please see

You'll find information on the Tusk Trust, photos of all stages of their trip, and ways to support both the Cycle of Life 2008 and various sponsors and charities - and a really cool interactive map.



Each year, gives 10% of its revenues to charities, including the Cycle of Life 2008 and The Tusk Trust.