Since 2008, the poaching of animals, most of all elephants, has dramatically escalated across much of Africa. There has been a massively increased demand from China and the Far East, ivory prices have soared from $200 a pound in 2004 to more than $2000 a pound today. Some experts estimate that as much as 35,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered, 10% of Africa’s elephant population each year alone.
Some of the methods being used are frighteningly simple – from concealed poisoned spikes that pierce the elephants’ feet, to poisoned melons and pineapples, all of which kill the elephants in unimaginable pain.
But the killing is not limited to elephants. Lions are being killed at an incredible rate too. There are just an estimated 20,000 lions left in Africa today. That’s a staggering 75% drop in 20 years. Most of this is due to conflict with the fast growing population. But increasingly, it is for body parts, again for the Asian market, now that tigers are too hard to procure. It has become so bad that there are next to no lions left outside the parks and reserves.
The plains animals are getting slaughtered as well: Giraffes here in the region are being killed at a faster rate for bush meat. There are even contracts out on zebras, as their skins are the latest fad in Asia.
about big life foundation
Big Life Foundation founded by Nick Brandt, photographer, and Richard Bonham, conservationist was established in October 2010, with a vision to establish a successful holistic conservation model in Amboseli-Tsavo that can be replicated across the African continent.
Big Life Foundation seeks to conserve and sustain the wildlife and the wild lands of the Amboseli- Tsavo ecosystem of East Africa, through innovative conservation strategies that address the greatest threats while – at the same time – satisfying the economic interests of the resident Maasai people in ways that improve the quality of life for the entire community.
Big Life recognizes that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through a community-based collaborative approach, whether the goal is to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, greatly reduce the loss of wildlife to poaching, defeat the ivory trade, protect the great predators, or manage scarce and fragile natural resources.
Big Life’s mandate has also expanded to more clearly foster and nurture the critically important relationship between the communities and the wildlife, supporting educational programs and constantly working with the local communities to ensure that protecting the wildlife is a winning situation for all, economically, ethically and environmentally. For the people, the animals, and the planet.
success so far
As of September 2012, Big Life foundation employs 250 rangers in 21 outposts across 2 million acres of ecosystem. However, the poaching continues unabated, escalating and out of control,
in the areas where Big Life still has no presence. Whilst substantial progress has been made, Big Life still needs to urgently double the number of rangers, camps and vehicles in the Amboseli ecosystem.
When the goal of stable and sustainable operations long term has been achieved in the region, the goal is to then start allocating funds to other areas in East Africa urgently in need of dealing with this growing poaching crisis. Because as the illegal demand for ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife parts continues to grow, there will be many who cannot resist the easy profits to be made out of killing these irreplaceable creatures.
Africa is Africa because of the animals there. But we can no longer take their presence for granted. At this rate, within the next twenty years, they will be gone. Imagine a world where very soon, these animals can only be seen in the sad, drab confines of a zoo.
Big Life acts now, effecting immediate protection, immediate results – a kind of short term triage – so that the animals will still be there in the wild as longer term solutions are implemented. It is working hard, and so far successfully, to urgently staunch the flow of blood, and preserve these extraordinary animals in the hopes of a better future for both them, and the planet.
We still need to go along way
the Hidden Sanctuary’s pledge
The Hidden Sanctuary donates 10% of our proceeds from our signature reflexology treatment towards Big Life Foundation, to help raise awareness of the poaching problem. For more information or to pledge a donation, please visit www.biglife.org
- Magina, killed by poachers in 2010
- Ezra, aged 46, with spear in skull, innocent victim of power struggle between the Maasai and KWS, July 2012
- Bronowsky, killed while sleeping under tree in lead-up to political struggle between Masai and KWS, July 2012