2012: A Year in Review

Thanks to all of you, AWF has had a successful 2012, and we’re looking forward to ushering in the new year on a high note. We weren’t able to fit all of this year’s accomplishments in this newsletter, but the monthly highlights below show just a snippet of how far your support went in helping Africa's wildlife and wild lands in 2012! Here's to another year of saving Africa's wildlife, together. Following is a special year–in–review for our newsletter readers. Join us on Facebook to see a gallery of your top–rated photos from 2012, too!

AWF Scores 4 Stars for 11th Year

America's largest independent charity evaluator gave us the coveted four-star rating—for the 11th year in a row! "This 'exceptional' designation differentiates AWF from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust," said Ken Berger, Charity Navigator's president and CEO. This rating puts us into an elite category—fewer than 1% of rated charities have received 11 consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that AWF consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way and outperforms most other charities in America. “It’s an honor to have earned the loyalty and trust of our donors,” said AWF CEO Patrick Bergin.

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// Visit AWF's Charity Navigator profile

January: Emergency Water

February: Leading by Example

March: Technology Today to Prepare for Tomorrow

April: Go Fish

We kicked off 2012 with a big focus on water security issues for both people and wildlife. In addition to infrastructure work within the park, January saw us planning for boreholes and water pump repair for wildlife on the Burkina Faso side of Regional Parc W because of an unusually short rainy season. Wildlife took full advantage of these water holes throughout the year.

Kenyan John Keen signed an easement with AWF and Kenya Wildlife Service extending Nairobi National Park almost 250 acres onto his own personal land. This provides wildlife with much-needed land to roam, as the park is quite small. "I want this land to remain pristine today and in the future for wildlife and future generations," said Keen.

A computer is a luxury in Tanzania, but children need technological training and access to resources today if they are to become the conservation leaders of tomorrow. In March, AWF therefore teamed up with Annenberg Foundation to equip Manyara Ranch School with a state-of-the-art computer lab. The lab features 40 Internet-accessible desktop computers running the latest software.

A river restocking ceremony saw the release of more than 50,000 fingerlings from Inyambo Integrated Fish Farm, an AWF conservation enterprise in southern Zambia, into the Zambezi River. The ceremony was a major step forward in repopulating the overfished Zambezi, but also an indication of how productive the fishery has been since construction last year.

// Read about Parc W’s water woes

// Read about the easement

// Learn about AWF's work at Manyara Ranch School

// Watch a video about Inyambo

May: Summit Calls to End Rhino Slaughter

June: Big News for Bonobos & Communities

July: Mixed News for Mountain Gorillas

August: Sniffing Out Poachers

Africa’s rhinos are nearing extinction, with over 1,000 poached in the past three years. In May, AWF and Kenya Wildlife Service convened a Rhino Summit to develop hard-hitting solutions to save the rhino. It was the first gathering of stakeholders from Africa’s key rhino range states, and the first involving wildlife authorities, private reserves, and nongovernmental organizations.

We received the news that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Environment signed the formal gazettement of the Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve. Formal recognition of the 1,199-square-kilometer reserve will allow local people to take leadership in its management and potentially gain tourist income—while also protecting bonobos against hunting and habitat loss. Community engagement such as this is essential to the species' survival.

In June, Rwanda held its popular Kwita Izina Festival, which celebrates the critically endangered mountain gorilla and raises awareness about how wildlife benefits local communities. Unfortunately, celebration was far from people's minds this past July in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, where the presence of rebels in mountain gorilla territory has led to instability. Conflict continues here, making gorilla monitoring extremely difficult.

In August, we shared the work of Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS’s) sniffer dogs to root out poachers and deter wildlife trafficking. These canines are trained to detect animal products, such as elephant ivory and rhino horn, at airports and ports, with greater than 90 percent accuracy. AWF has since provided funding to expand KWS's canine unit.

// Learn about AWF’s plan to save the rhino

// Learn more about bonobo conservation

// Check out the photos from

this year's Kwita Izina

// See a sniffer dog in action

September: Yao Ming Stands Tall for Rhinos

October: Meet Our Trainees

November: U.S. Stands Against Wildlife Crime

December: Blood Ivory

Taking advantage of retired NBA star Yao Ming’s incredible worldwide popularity, AWF and partner WildAid kicked off a multimedia public awareness campaign against rhino poaching with a billboard ad featuring the Chinese former basketball player in September. The campaign will raise awareness of the effects of poaching and aims to curb demand for rhino horn.

In October, we introduced you to our three Conservation Management Training Program (CMTP) trainees, Sam, George, and Theo. Upon completion, the trio will have the practical skills and training to become leaders in African conservation. “I doubt chances to explore, learn, and grow like this come twice in a lifetime,” said Sam.

AWF was heartened when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the State Department would add wildlife trafficking—a black-market business with an estimated worth of $10 billion per year—to its foreign policy agenda. We look forward to working with Secretary Clinton and the State Department to combat this issue—but we need your help, too.

The number of elephants in Africa today is only half of what it was 40 years ago. If poaching rates persist, elephants could cease to exist in the wild in our lifetimes. In response to the elephant–poaching crisis, we created the Blood Ivory project on Crowdrise. Donate today to ensure the continued survival of the majestic elephant.

// Get the facts in the AWF/WildAid video

// Follow the CMTP trainees’ adventures in the field

// Learn the details of the State Department’s plan

// Help AWF fight illegal ivory

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The African Wildlife Foundation, together with the people of Africa, works to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever.

Please visit www.awf.org to learn more.

© Photo Credits: Billy Dodson, Federico Veronesi/www.federicoveronesi.com, AWF, Kathleen Fitzgerald, James Mithamo, Becky Walter, Paul Thomson, Craig Sholley, IGCP/Anna Behm Masozera, KWS, AWF/WildAid, Peter Chira, U.S. State Department, Cardo Kleberg