It is early evening at Taita Ranch, which lies adjacent to Kenya’s biggest national park, the Tsavo. We drive slowly along the bumpy roads in the 98,000-acre conservancy, stopping to peer into bushes, alert for any signs of movement. We are looking for giraffes. They are usually in plenty, visibly towering over the shrubland and quietly grazing on the choicest leaves on the tops of trees, but today they are proving uncharacteristically elusive.
382. That is the staggering number of wildlife product seizures our canine detection units have made in just East Africa alone in roughly six years. African Wildlife Foundation has trained and deployed over 70 dog handlers and 48 dogs have been trained and deployed at transit points in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, and Mozambique since the inception of African Wildlife Foundation’s Canines for Conservation program in 2014.
Consider the African wildlife ranger’s job — the long periods away from family and home, low pay, challenging physical conditions, and significant risk of armed confrontations. In 2018, more than 50 African rangers died in the line of duty, killed by poachers, elephant attacks, snakebites, and a myriad of other causes. The International Ranger Federation’s annually released roster of fatalities paints only a sliver of the picture, omitting the many rangers who suffered severe injuries during the year.
African Wildlife Foundation conserves elephant and rhino populations by supporting the work of rangers and community wildlife scouts — the “boots on the ground” who shield highly endangered animals from poachers’ guns.
In April 2019, two women who are influencing the course of conservation in Africa — Fiesta Warinwa and Didi Wamukoya — traveled from Nairobi to visit their African Wildlife Foundation colleagues in the US and UK. Over three weeks, they met with AWF partners and supporters who make their work possible and appeared in various forums to discuss their work.
When African Wildlife Foundation designed its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization knew that focusing only on wildlife and wild lands would fall short of mitigating the ongoing crisis. Our decades of experience in conservation in Africa continue to show that even the best designed conservation programs do not succeed when the needs of the communities living near wildlife remain unaddressed.
The illegal trafficking of protected African wildlife species can take various gory forms across the continent. Wildlife management authorities and investigators often discover concealed elephant tusks still dripping with blood or even pieces of flesh and hides, but they are also likely to find crocodile eggs or pangolin scales. The contraband counts as evidence, as do the tools and weapons found at the crime scene, which can range from handmade bows and arrows to AK47s.
Developing: As I was writing about the incredible community conservation program at Olderkesi, the COVID-19 crisis was just developing. Now, as I finish this piece, unfortunately, much of the work outlined here is in great threat as tourism comes to a grinding halt in the wake of the pandemic. Cottar’s Safaris find themselves in the same position as most safari outfits. Tourism revenues have plummeted, threatening the wildlife living on this critical conservancy in the Mara and the livelihoods of the Maasai families who work at — and receive economic benefits from — the lodges.
AFD provides funding and technical assistance for development projects and programs that enhance sustainable and shared economic growth and improve living conditions for the poorest. It is also focused on preserving the environment and stabilizing countries in fragile situations.
DGIS is responsible for development cooperation policy, its coordination, implementation, and funding. DGIS is focused primarily on gender, AIDS, education, sustainable economic development, and the environment.