Why is it that most people feel such empathy for elephants, even if they have never had close contact with them? Is it because of their size, their quaint characteristics, or the fact that they are so incredibly endearing as babies, tripping over little wobbly trunks that seem to serve no useful purpose other than get in the way? Or is it, perhaps, because elephants are “human” animals in terms of emotion, and in many other ways as well, encompassed by an invisible and mystical aura that reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious way that defies human logic.
– Dr. Daphne Sheldrick, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Kenya
IVORY POACHING & THE FUTURE OF ELEPHANTS
Elephants are facing their biggest threat to survival since they began roaming the earth, 15 million years ago. It is estimated that 36,000 of these iconic animals are poached annually — that’s one life lost every 15 minutes. In many countries, ivory continues to be a symbol of status and power. And, sadly, China’s ivory industry is poised for growth. We are calling on governments around the world to take proactive steps to tackle this illicit trade and help save elephants.
Every piece of ivory is a haunting memory of a once proud and majestic animal that should have lived three score years and ten; who has loved and been loved, and was once a member of a close knit and loving family akin to our own, but who has suffered and died to yield a tusk for a trinket.
Anti-Poaching Efforts in East Africa
Big Life Foundation is the first organization in East Africa with coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border, Big Life recognizes that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through a community-based collaborative approach. This approach is at the heart of Big Life’s philosophy that conservation supports the people and people support conservation.
In the Tsavo-Amboseli region of Kenya, the Guided Safaris® initiatives are partnered with well-known Kenyan tracker and conservationist Richard Bonham of the Big Life Foundation and founder of the Maasailand Preservation Trust, a community game scout program at Mbirikani. The Bonham family history is famed as East Africa’s key wardens in the establishment of the Selous Rhino Trust and advocates for the last remaining Rhino populations in the local area. Lion monitoring, Black Rhino anti-poaching units, Educational support over land management and rural farming, and compensational resolutions toward human-wildlife conflicts are some of the projects in actual work here. Health clinics, clean water supply and schools for the children alongside a crucial Wildlife Scholarship program also aid the subsistence of the Maasai community. In turn, the training and recruitment of these dedicated scouts from the program have assisted the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) in the effort to prosecute over 500 poachers and illegal loggers, while rendering general border control for this significant wildlife corner.
Rescuing Elephant and Rhino orphans
Founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, in honor of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Daphne Sheldrick was the first person to have perfected the milk formula and necessary husbandry for infant milk-dependent Elephants and Rhinos. At the heart of the DSWT’s conservation work is the Elephant and Rhino Orphans’ Project, that has generated world-wide acclaim through a hugely successful rescue and rehabilitation program. The Orphans’ Project offers hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Guided Safaris® guests visit beyond the fourth-wall perspective; not as tourists and passersby but as benefactors and real stakeholders in a humanitarian effort; A front-row, hands-on seat is offered on this important on-ground project watching daily stories unfold and contributions raised in the emergency funding required from each visit supporting the work at hand. Your journey here links to the destiny of these prized regions, helping directly fund not only the protection of these majestic animals but also sponsoring the rural communities at the actual forefront of the anti-poaching war.
For information on how you can donate to the immediate causes on ground, please get in touch with us. In addition to acting as donor, we can help arrange a private behind-the-scenes safari.
Fostering a Orphan Elephant and visiting the Sheldrick Trust in Kenya:
None of the work of these incredible organizations would have been possible without the help of so many people worldwide. The rearing of a rescued infant elephant affected by the ivory poaching trade is an expensive and long-term commitment. During this time the calf is dependent upon milk and a team of trained caretakers who represent family to the babies and are there for the little elephant until such time as it is comfortable amongst the wild herds, chooses to become independent and is released responsibly into the wild.