Africa is home to keystone wildlife species that are facing extinction, including the mountain gorilla, Grevy’s zebra, and Ethiopian wolf. To protect populations from further decline, our on-the-ground safeguards involve training rangers and using sniffer dogs to stop wildlife traffickers. Wildlife must survive in their natural habitats, so we empower local communities through conservation-friendly development and work with international agencies to protect Africa’s natural resources.
Critical to protecting these vital ecosystems are people. Sharing land across the continent, local communities and wildlife often live alongside each other, leading to struggles for space and water. If people and wildlife learn to live together — inside and outside of protected areas — the future for all will thrive.
Whether it is humans poaching wildlife or wildlife attacking people’s livestock, the problem cuts both ways: the needs of people and wildlife are not in harmony. As human populations grow with the development of industry and infrastructure, our programs balance multiple priorities to mitigate the threats facing iconic species and historic wildlife habitats.
Anti-poaching initiatives to stop the slaughter of wildlife within Africa’s protected areas have saved some species from further decline. However, to destabilize the international trade that has decimated populations over the last few decades, we need to combat wildlife trafficking and strengthen the prosecution of wildlife crimes in strategic wildlife crime hotspots. Meanwhile, in demand centers where ivory is carved while rhino horn and pangolin scales are wanted as traditional medicine, many consumers are unaware that the products are ineffective and in fact destroying Africa’s valuable ecosystems.
Here are some of the ways the African Wildlife Foundation provides solutions that balance the needs of people and wildlife:
Providing wildlife rangers with anti-poaching equipment and training prevents the killing of wildlife in protected areas, but to disrupt illegal wildlife trade we deploy trained Canine Detection Units along trafficking channels to intercept wildlife contraband. Located at major seaports and airports in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the robust sniffer dog and handler teams stop illegal wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales — as well as the smugglers and poachers behind the killing. With additional training in the enforcement of wildlife laws, national agencies ensure these criminals are prosecuted without slipping through legal loopholes.
We understand specific community needs and work closely with members to make sure they get direct benefits from conserving wildlife and protecting natural habitat. While our education outreach programs help locals to reduce human-wildlife conflict, we also implement projects that create a positive impact for the entire community. AWF has helped communities lease their land to develop conservancies or wildlife management areas. We also help farming communities explore sustainable agriculture, growing their income and reducing pressure on living and natural resources.
Not only do we nurture relationships with rural community leaders, we also represent Africa’s wildlife and wild lands as the continent strives to meet sustainable development goals. We are working closely with the African Union to ensure that conservation is central to progress over the next few decades. Outside the continent, we have launched successful public awareness campaigns in China and Vietnam informing consumers about the brutal truths behind the global wildlife trade. We also advocate for governments and protection agencies to ban international trade in wildlife parts like ivory and introduce stiffer penalties for criminals.
We match our decades worth of experience on the ground with pioneering scientific research to add a new dimension to our work across the continent. GPS collars on priority populations of elephants help us identify which land must be conserved while radio collars on lions allow us to track population trends, seasonal movement patterns, and mortality. Incisive geographical information systems and mapping informs our conservation strategies so even remote landscapes are protected.
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