Africa is losing the battle to save its wildlife. Iconic African animals including elephants and rhinos are under attack from highly organized criminal networks that are feeding an insatiable demand for ivory and rhino horn in Vietnam and other Asian countries.
How Network For Animals fight for Elephants and Rhinos
Elephants are killed for their tusks, which are carved into trinkets, rhinos for their horns which are used in phony potions claimed to ‘cure’ everything from fevers to hangovers. According to the United Nations, 100 elephants are killed every day in Africa by poachers.
There are only some 5,500 black rhino left and about 18,000 white rhino. They are being killed at the rate of 30 a day in South Africa alone.
How Network For Animals is working to put an end to the cruelty
Network for Animals is doing whatever it can to put an end to the ruthless and unnecessary slaughter of African animals.
In South Africa, Network for Animals is playing an important role in the war against rhinoceros and elephant poaching. Network for Animals has supplied funding for ranger patrols and for a canine anti-poaching units in the Kruger National Park and the Addo National Park.
Zimbabwe’s shame – exporting baby elephants to China
In 2015 the Zimbabwe government sold 24 wild baby elephants to China. To capture the babies, helicopters were used to stampede an elephant herd, the babies who could not keep up were brought down, chained and forced into cages – babies that were so tiny they were still breastfeeding.
Several months later those babies who survived – we don’t know how many died – were drugged and flown halfway across the world to China where they will be trained to perform circus tricks in a zoo.
It gets even worse. The zoo wasn’t even built then. So, the babies were locked up in a quarantine facility in cages too small for a single elephant, let alone 24. We still do not know where those animals ended up. We do know that one baby died.
If they are still alive, they face terrible cruelty as they are trained to perform circus tricks. Elephant behavioral experts say that training elephants to perform tricks always involves cruelty. Usually, the babies are chained and beaten until they respond to a command.
What is happening to the Zimbabwe 23 is unspeakably cruel but Chimelong Zoo, the combined zoo and circus responsible for the performing Asian Elephants pictured in this page, and owners of the Zimbabwe 23, refuses to even talk about what they are doing to the babies behind bars.
Since then Zimbabwe has sold more baby elephants to China and as this is being written another 34 have been captured and are being held in an enclosure in the country’s Hwange National Park before being flown to China.
Mission Jumbo: Network for Animals’ supporters make history
With the help of our supporters, we have introduced a 27-strong elephant family to an area of Africa where they were hunted to extinction 150 years ago.
The elephant family used to live in the main area of South Africa’s Addo National Park in the Eastern Cape. Addo owns huge land areas, but much of it is inaccessible to elephants because of roads and rail lines. NFA, working with South African National Parks, selected a suitable family, brought in an expert game capture team and moved them to an idyllic wilderness.
First, the family was herded to a large enclosed area, a process that took weeks. Then when all was ready, rangers anesthetised 14 elephants – five adult cows, four sub-adult bulls and four calves. Veterinarians carefully tended to each sleeping creature, monitoring their health, much like a patient in an operating theatre. Then the elephants were swung on to flat-bed trucks and moved to purpose-built elephant carriers, making sure that mothers and calves were together. Then they were woken up and driven to their new home. The process was repeated over the next two days and all 27 were safely moved. The giant bulls went last because they presented the greatest logistical challenge.
Perhaps the most moving moment of the experience came when the elephants were released. Without hesitation they walked out of the elephant carriers and headed off into the wild, without a backward glance.
The area they now live in is perfectly suited for elephants with plenty of water and grazing and lots of land for them to breed in. Importantly, the area is far from poaching areas.
“Our supporters have enabled us to do something marvelous. We are taking Africa back for elephants,” said Brian Davies, NFA’s founder. “Twenty years ago, I gave Addo money, so the national park could be expanded. Now we have opened up an area of Africa for elephants where few people thought they would ever roam again.
In 2019, NFA is working with Addo on new elephant projects to relocate more animals.
Network for Animals has also cared for the victims of the poaching epidemic, supplying high protein feed to rear eight rhino babies whose mothers were slaughtered for their horns.
And, behind the scenes, Network for Animals is lobbying African governments, trying to convince them of the urgent need to tighten legislation and make wildlife poaching and trafficking a high priority crime. In March 2015, we presented a vital report to the South African commission investigating the legalization of the sale of rhino horn. We were delighted to be successful in 2016 when the commission ruled against changing the law, however, the South African government has given notice that it intends to try again to legalize the trade.
Beyond Africa, NFA is working to improve the life of Mali the elephant, who has occupied a small enclosure in Manila zoo since the age of three. We have repeatedly petitioned, lobbied and met with the mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada. We have worked in schools to generate awareness of Mali’s plight, and to create understanding of her situation as a captive animal rather than a spectacle for entertainment. We have worked ‘undercover’ in the Philippines as the organization ‘Warriors For Mali’, to create a local voice for her freedom. We pay regular visits to Mali in order to stay abreast of her situation, and maintain good terms with the staff of the zoo, with a view to negotiation. In 2015 we paid for blood tests and will reveal the results when they are released.