In 1900, cheetahs thrived across Africa and parts of Asia. Today, that picture is vastly different. Africa’s cheetahs occupy a thin slice of their former habitat and number only 6,674. This vulnerable big cat has lost 89 percent of its historic range — and the remaining habitat falls outside of protected areas. The reasons for the crisis include human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of prey, and a lesser-known threat: the underground pet trade.
Wild lands across Africa are home to rare, threatened, and endangered species of immense value to conservation, contributing to the common heritage of humanity. Recognizing their extraordinary value and to preserve their ecological wealth for future generations, some of these gems of biodiversity are conferred with World Heritage Site status. However, a robust international trade in illegal wildlife parts is decimating keystone wildlife populations while rapid industrialization and climate change are negatively impacting the ecological integrity of these crucial landscapes.
Monday, June 7, 2010 stands out clearly in my memory. I had just been appointed as a public prosecutor for wildlife crimes, and my first mission was to visit various courts and introduce myself in my new role. I started at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, where the Chief Magistrate kindly suggested that I sit in her courtroom for the morning session to acquaint myself — a relief, given that I had no experience in prosecution.
Dogs have been part of our world since time immemorial, considered a best friend and companion. But canines are not only loyal, they are also highly intelligent and possess a dazzling sense of smell. These enviable qualities form the basis of African Wildlife Foundation’s Canines for Conservation Program.
There is greater biodiversity in Africa’s Albertine Rift region where Virunga National Park is located than in any other ecosystem in Africa. This richly diverse array of habitats is home to critical populations of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas.