Mazda Wildlife Fund supports ORI Coral Reef Research

Launching at Sodwana Bay

The Mazda Wildlife Fund (MWF) has supported the Oceanographic Research Institute’s (ORI) Coral Reef Programme for more than two decades. Mazda’s commitment commenced in 1992 when the fund decided to include the ORI Coral Reef Programme in its flagship suite of conservation-orientated projects.

“We took delivery of our first 4x4 twin-cab Mazda in its distinctive MWF livery in July that year, and were able to transport the staff and launch our boat in greater safety from that day on,” says ORI’s Michael Schleyer.

“The provision of an MWF vehicle provided the ‘seed’ support needed to continue an expensive programme while giving leverage to our other fundraising activities for reef initiatives.”

The vehicle is maintained by Barloworld Ford and Mazda in Pinetown, which has provided excellent service to ensure the vehicle’s reliability and performance. A measure of the suitability of the MWF vehicle for the work that ORI does is reflected in the fact that the South African Association for Marine Biological Research subsequently bought a similar vehicle for uShaka Sea World’s curatorial activities.

A research team with its trusty Mazda-sponsored bakkie

“Over the years, our MWF vehicles have been used locally and regionally, not only for coral reef research but also for a number of other studies. These have ranged from surveys of boating activities at launch sites to estuarine research and studies on transfrontier areas between Mozambique and South Africa – for the planning of cross-border marine protected areas in the ‘Transmap’ project,” says Schleyer.

“A number of postgraduate students have gained higher degrees during these initiatives, and MWF support is acknowledged in publications resulting from research in which the vehicle was used,” he adds.

The vehicles have made a valuable contribution towards improved marine resource management and conservation, and have even been used in the training of uShaka Sea World education staff.

Schleyer says ORI salutes the Mazda Wildlife Fund for its efforts and thanks it for its invaluable support.