This post is the last installment of the In-depth series, so I thought I'd end on a happy note: what's being done to stop poaching in Africa. As I covered in my last post, poaching is a complex and organized crime, so stopping it isn't easy. But there are several different angles that governments and organizations have approached anti-poaching, and so far, their efforts are making a difference.
Mobile Vet Units
When an animal gets caught in a trap or suffers some harm because of human involvement, it must get medical attention to survive. Fortunately, there are mobile vet units in a few places that patrol an area, looking for injured animals to treat. Often, they must tranquilize the animal to treat it properly, but they are often able to complete the treatment and let the animal heal without removing it from its environment.
Park rangers are not only responsible for monitoring the numbers of their wildlife populations, they're also charged with their safety and well-being. Thus, part of a ranger's duty is to look for traps and snares, and to take them down before an animal is caught. They also rescue animals from traps and watch for signs of poachers.
Because poachers are so dependent on the illegal wildlife trade, there are often encounters between poachers and rangers, which can result in injury or even death. But if all is well, the rangers are able to keep peace in these protected areas of refuge.
As anyone with children knows, it's important to invest in the next generation if you want the future to be brighter. This is why Africa for Elephants has created an education program that teaches African children the value of the wild around them.
Very often, elephants and humans live side-by-side, which can sometimes cause nasty encounters. But by teaching children to be proud and respectful of the creatures around them, there is hope that humans and elephants can coexist together.
Human children aren't the only ones we need to take care of, however. Baby elephants are being orphaned all over the continent as poachers kill entire herds of adults. But there is hope, since the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust stepped in and created an orphanage in Kenya. It is here that these little babies are brought to be healed, nursed, cared for and eventually, sent back out into the wild.
The orphanage has been doing a wonderful job for decades, and very often I hear of ex-orphan herds who come back to visit and show off their little ones, which brings a great feeling of hope and purpose to this work.
While poaching happens in Africa, the sale of ivory takes place in Asia and Western markets. Recently I've heard about children who have taken the front seat and are targeting businesses in China and Hong Kong to stop illegal ivory sales.
By protesting outside shops, talking to consumers and raising money for anti-ivory efforts, these kids have come a long way toward ending ivory sales in their area. It's inspiring to see how creative minds have come together to bring education of the global impact their community is making with their dollars. Can you say inspiring?
All in all, getting citizens and villagers involved is important in anti-poaching efforts. After all, if the elephants' human neighbors don't care about saving the species, who will? So while the ivory trade and poaching have made devastating efforts on the local, national and global scale, there are more and more anti-ivory initiatives popping up where communities are coming together to say "we love elephants!"
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.