The elephant is an icon of the animal kingdom and one of the world’s most intelligent, emotionally complex living creatures. Elephants form close family ties and appear to understand death. Poaching of elephants for their ivory has risen to historic levels since 2009, with elephant populations declining by about 30% - equating to hundreds of thousands of individual animals. Right now, particularly in parts of Central and West Africa, elephants continue to be shot, speared, snared, or poisoned, even in national parks and protected areas. Continued unabated, this could mean a world without wild elephants within our lifetime—a tragic failure of our humanity. There are some signs of hope for the future of Africa’s elephants – especially in southern and eastern Africa, where poaching rates have fallen significantly in the last few years – but they are still facing a crisis. It is here that the Elephant Crisis Fund steps in to help.
The Elephant Crisis Fund identifies and supports high-priority and catalytic projects across a broad coalition of NGOs, institutions, media, decision makers, scientists and governments. Specifically, the ECF supports field projects across three strategies that must be targeted to protect elephants in the long term:
• Anti-Poaching: Reduce poaching of elephants across Africa. Includes deployment of anti-poaching teams, supplies and transport to support these personnel, and innovative community engagement with clear anti-poaching outcomes.
• Anti-Trafficking: Reduce trafficking of ivory and national, regional, and global scales. Includes judicial reform and anti-trafficking tools and requires creating close alliances with domestic and international law enforcement and policymakers.
• Demand Reduction: Decrease demand for ivory in Asia through targeted media outreach to consumers and building relationships with government policymakers. This is the most important element of protection efforts, as all other efforts to stop illegal killing of elephants will fail unless demand for ivory in Asia is tackled.
The high price of ivory continues to attract the attention of organized crime syndicates, inciting corruption and poaching that are driving declines in elephant populations across large swathes of Africa. On-the-ground antipoaching efforts are often outgunned and overwhelmed because of a lack of training and resources. Poachers kill elephants and remove their tusks, while gangs of organized criminals and corrupt businessmen ship ivory around the world. International borders are often too porous and unenforced to stop the flow of ivory along poorly policed trade routes, leaving organized criminals and corrupt businessmen to continue shipping ivory around the world. Compounding the brazenness of poachers and traders, lack of prosecution and minimal penalties often fail to deter smuggling activity.
China’s closure of its ivory markets in 2017 was a huge win in the fight to protect elephants, but as long as there is demand for ivory products, poaching will remain a significant threat to the species. Illegal ivory markets have been growing in countries bordering China, such as Vietnam and Laos, as traffickers and smugglers have shifted their efforts there in response to China’s increased law enforcement. There is still a long way to go to, but there is hope.
If you are interested in supporting this project please use the form to the right to submit an inquiry.