Rod Cassidy - Communities | Conservationist | Pangolin Protector
Rod Cassidy is the owner and founder of Sangha Lodge in The Dzanga Sangha protected area in the Central African Republic.Rod's started his career at the Fitzpatrick Institute for Ornithology, University of Cape Town. He worked on various research projects, which took him to the Antarctic, Sub Antarctic islands (Marion and Gough Island) and the Cape Province. Later he joined the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria where he worked with researchers in birds and small mammals, particularly bats. At that time, (1982), he also started guiding tours especially for bird watchers turning this into a full time business in 1990, when he started to lead trips further afield in Africa and South East Asia. In 1999 Rod started working in Central Africa, firstly in Gabon, and later in the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic having switched to running and organising general wildlife tours and primate tours. In 2009 Rod opened Sangha Lodge, in the Central African Republic and ran this with his wife Tamar and son Alon until the coup de tête in March 2013 when they had to flee the country for their own safety. Following the massacre of elephants in early May 2013 Rod raised finance to return to Dzanga Sangha where he and his wife remain until today. Their presence here now is that of independent observers and conservationists right now as tourism will take a long time to re-establish. Rod firmly believes that the feeling of abandonment that the locals felt when all the expats left in March 2013 had a huge part to play in the upsurge in elephant poaching in the area, and that their return has helped immensely to restore the local communities faith in the future. Rods extensive knowledge and experience in developing tourism and communities for the benefit of conservation in Central Africa make him unique in this field.
DZANGA SANGHA NATIONAL PARK AND DZANGA BAI
The park is well known for its two habituated western lowland gorilla groups that tourists are allowed to visit, together with the famed Dzanga Bai (among other activities). Dzanga Bai is one of a collection of bais (small rainforest clearings) scattered through the rainforest in the region where CAR, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo meet. Bais are special because they provide the best opportunities to see animals that usually stay hidden in the dense rainforest. For whatever reason, each Bai seems to attract a slightly different suite of animals, and Dzanga is famous for its elephants and bongo.
The high biodiversity is more than just elephants and gorillas. The Dzanga Baï teems with species ranging the from the elusive bongo to herds of 'golden' forest elephants, and red river hog. Go on an expedition with the Ba'Aka (pygmies) for a net hunt, learning about medicinal plants or drinking palm wine.
Sangha Lodge is owned and run by Rod and Tamar Cassidy, two South Africans with a passion for birding and conservation who stumbled into owning a lodge in the heart of Africa in 2009. Rod and Tamar are assisted by an incredible team as well as volunteers that assist with pangolin research and conservation. The Cassidy's have partnered with Congo Conservation Company to develop sustainable tourism in the Congo Basin.
Sangha Lodge supports various conservation efforts, including amongst others: Pangolin research, wildlife rehabilitation, the reduction of the bushmeat trade and hunting, socio-economic development by providing seeds to local entrepreneurs who grow fruit and vegetables which the lodge then buys back from them for use in meals. The lodge also supports two local schools and clothes over 20 children attending these schools.