Africa is losing the battle to save its wildlife. Iconic African animals like elephants and rhinos are under attack from highly organised criminal networks that are feeding an insatiable demand for ivory and rhino horn in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
How Network For Animals fight for Elephants and Rhinos
In 2013, Tanzania reportedly lost 10 000 elephants to poachers – the equivalent of 30 per day. Their tusks were carved into jewelry and trinkets in China where prices for ivory objects have skyrocketed. And in South Africa, rhino killings are driven by the false belief that crushed rhino horn can cure everything from fevers to hangovers.
The tragedy is that elephant and rhino poaching is driven by criminal networks with global reach. They are ruthlessly corrupting the guardians of Africa’s unique wildlife heritage to increase the stream of elephant ivory and rhino horn flowing out of African ports. In Tanzania, corruption takes place at every level – from game rangers who provide information on the location of elephant heards to port officials who look the other way as shipping containers filled with elephant tusks leave African shores. And in South Africa, wildlife traffickers have corrupted game ranchers and members of conservation agencies who now work to kill rather than protect endangered rhinos.
How Network For Animals is working to put an end to the cruelty
Network for Animals is doing whatever it can to help conservationists 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 has ‘adopted’ a canine unit of seven anti-poaching sniffer and tracker dogs working to combat poaching in the Kruger National Park. The dogs are in the front line, fighting poachers who infiltrate the park’s border from neighbouring Mozambique. Network pays all veterinary and food costs for the brave dogs.
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 legalisation of the sale of rhino horn. We were delighted to be successful in 2016 when the commission ruled against changing the law.
Beyond Africa, NFA are 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 elected 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 organisation ‘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.
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.
Each and every one of you who donated to finance this massive project can give yourself a pat on the back knowing that, thanks to you, elephants will now be able to live and breed securely in the wilderness, far from poaching areas.
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. Network for Animals (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 perfect 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. Poachers kill elephants for their ivory tusks, which are carved into trinkets for tourists. The poaching problem is so severe that the United Nations estimates that 100 elephants are slaughtered each day in Africa and without initiatives like this, elephants could be extinct in the wild within decades.
Thanks to NFA’s supporters, who donated funds to make the relocation possible, elephants are now safe to breed and live their lives in peace in the wild.
“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.
Davies said that NFA’s work at Addo is not yet over. “I have promised support for the National Park to open up more areas for elephants. If our supporters allow us to do so, we will continue to make at least this part of Africa an elephant paradise.”