“Grandma, what did elephants look like?” This is the type of question one might be faced with if Africa’s wildlife goes extinct. What a frightening and disheartening thought. The sad news is that in less than 10 years, we could lose mountain gorillas. In 20 years, the African rhino and eventually even lions could disappear.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, AWF, “After the chain of extinction gains momentum, it may too late to save the Grevy’s zebra, African wild dog, wattled crane – and even the fish of the Zambezi River.” However, that is where AWF steps in.
What are some of the great things AWF does every day? Plenty. They beat poachers at their own game by being one step ahead of them. They train scouts and guards to “patrol the parks and equip them with satellite phones, GPS, all-terrain vehicles and sophisticated teams.”
They also monitor activity at the airport to make sure people aren’t taking illegal ivory out of the country. They use sniffer dogs at the airports and advocate for stricter penalties for those who do attempt to transport items such as rhino horn and elephant tusk. Further, they work to educate about why these items should not be bought or sold.
AWF also works with farmers, villages, families, land owners, governments and other conservation agencies to come up with alternatives to harming wildlife. Everywhere they operate, from South Africa to Niger and Kenya to Burkina Faso, everyone is trying to help save Africa’s animals.
One way they are helping protect these wild places and creatures is by creating community-owned eco-tourist lodges. These offer visitors a chance to view wildlife while the money goes toward conservation and protection.
As for those elephants, the AWF identifies critical movement paths and keeps developers from building on them. They are the same corridors the elephants have walked for centuries, and the knowledge of their whereabouts is passed down from generation to generation. The paths take them to water and to suitable land for foraging. Babies are born along the way, just as elderly elephants pass on and are mourned for.
The mission of the African Wildlife Foundation is to work together with the people of Africa “to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever.” With their hard work, they have the power to succeed.