What Can You Do to Save Africa's Wildlife?
WildAid: When the buying stops, the killing can too
Few world issues can render us so angry and seemingly helpless as the fight to save Africa’s wildlife. An estimated 33,000 elephants (and perhaps more), are being slaughtered every year. Their ivory is traded by militant groups for arms, smuggled by criminal syndicates, and sold by unscrupulous vendors all over the world. Under the light of a full moon, poachers often use tranquilizer darts to immobilize rhinoceroses, hacking off their horns and leaving the animals to die. Consumer demand for illicit animal products from shark fin to pangolin scales is driving the slaughter of many other animal species as well. Animals are not the only victims. Recent polls in countries such as Tanzania show that the public views elephants, rhinos, and other animals as integral to their heritage, and are deeply concerned about the demise of wildlife. Government officials point to huge economic losses as a result of poaching, which threatens burgeoning tourism industries that support countless jobs. We can indeed all do something to put an end to this crisis. Even on the local level. Here are just some of the ways you can help.
“An estimated 33,000 elephants (and perhaps more), are being slaughtered every year.”
1. Shockingly enough, the United States remains one of the world’s largest markets for wildlife products such as ivory. And much of the ivory for sale is widely suspected of originating from elephants poached within even the last few years. The good news is that there’s an emerging effort to ban the trade in major markets such as California. New York and New Jersey have already banned ivory sales, and the Obama administration announced new regulations over the summer that aim to choke the trade out of existence. But effective state laws are still needed. Contact your local representative: Ask them to make your state Ivory Free.
2. Many nonprofit organizations are at work on this issue, not only to save wildlife from poaching, but also to improve the often deeply impoverished communities that live alongside. The African Wildlife Foundation supports anti-poaching efforts throughout the continent while supporting innovative initiatives such as conservation primary schools. Save the Elephants is world-renowned for its groundbreaking research and advocacy. Finally, the nonprofit WildAid focuses on a key aspect of the illegal wildlife trade that historically has been ignored: consumer demand. WildAid works in countries such as China and Vietnam to educate the public on poaching. Their methods have shown measurable success in raising awareness and encouraging people never to buy animal products.
3. Join a global movement by pledging to be “Ivory Free” at IvoryFree.org, a campaign launched by these three charities. By signing, you pledge never to buy, give, or accept as a gift any ivory items. WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetime. They envision a world where people no longer buy wildlife products. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products by persuading consumers and strengthening enforcement. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and global network of media partners, WildAid leverages nearly $200 million in annual pro-bono media support. Their message reaches up to one billion people every week.
Photo: Shannon Benson