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.
The scale of the problem
Elephants are killed for their tusks which are carved into trinkets, and 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. 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.
How Network for Animals is working to stop this
Our major focus is to protect elephants in southern Africa. Network for Animals has supplied funding for ranger patrols and for canine anti-poaching units in the Kruger National Park and the Addo National Park.
We work closely with Addo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which is perhaps the safest place for wild elephants in Africa. The Park measures 1000 square miles (1600 square kilometers) and is 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) from major poaching routes. The entire area is closely monitored through sophisticated anti-poaching techniques.
In 2018, our supporters financed the relocation of a 27-strong elephant family to an area of Addo where they were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. The elephant family lived in the main area of the park but could not move across the road and railway line which cuts through the park. 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.
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. A baby has been born, the first in the area for 150 years.
Because all the elephants with big tusks in the Addo area were hunted out in the last century, Addo’s elephants are now born with either very small tusks, or none at all. Tusks play a very important role for elephants. They are used to protect the sensitive trunk, for foraging and digging, and for attracting females.
WE ARE GIVING ELEPHANTS BACK THEIR TUSKS!
We need your help
We are preparing to relocate two big tuskers who live in areas where they might be poached by ivory hunters, to Addo where they will breed with tuskless elephants, and reintroduce the tusk gene into the Addo herds.
We have to move the giant tuskers 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) by road, while carefully monitoring their well-being. A top game-capture team will drive the elephants to their new homes, and a team of vets will be with them every step of the way.
We’ve already identified some beautiful tuskers for the move. The game-capture team is already planning the move, which will happen in September 2019.
Zimbabwe’s shame – exporting baby elephants to Chinese zoos
The Zimbabwe government sells wild baby elephants to China, in contravention of scientific and moral precepts. To capture the babies, helicopters are used to stampede an elephant herd, and the babies who cannot keep up are brought down, chained and forced into cages – babies that are so tiny they are still breastfeeding.
In 2015, 24 babies were drugged and flown to China where they will be trained to perform circus tricks in a zoo. Below is a photograph from one of the zoos.
The babies 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.
Chimelong Zoo, the combined zoo and circus responsible for the performing Asian Elephants pictured on this page, and owners of the Zimbabwe elephants, refuse to even talk about what they are doing to the babies.
Another 37 baby elephants have been captured and are being held in an enclosure in the country’s Hwange National Park, before being flown to China. In August 2019, CITES, the organization that controls the trade in live animals, decided that elephants should only be moved to conservation areas in places they traditionally roam. It is not clear what will happen to the 37 babies that are currently being held at Hwange.
Network for Animals works with local groups, lobbying to convince African governments of the urgent need to tighten legislation and make wildlife poaching and trafficking a high priority crime.
Beyond Africa, NFA is working to improve the life of Mali, an elephant who has occupied a small enclosure at the Manila zoo since she was three. We have repeatedly petitioned, lobbied, and met with the deputy mayor of Manila and zoo director to improve Mali’s well-being. We have worked in schools to generate awareness of Mali’s plight and now that Mail is approaching 50 (and since transport to a sanctuary out of the country could be life threatening) we are working with all parties to see a encourage a multi-fold increase in the size of her enclosure and to establish a state-of-the-art environmental enrichment program.
We pay regular visits to Mali in order to stay abreast of her situation and maintain good terms with the staff of the zoo.