Elephants are not only social, intelligent, empathetic animals, but they are keystone species in their habitats. African elephants can migrate about 300 miles in a single year and they drastically alter the landscape along their routes. Not only do elephants excavate trees in open savannahs, create paths through forests, and dig water and mineral wells with their trunks, but they act as seed dispersers. An adult African elephant can consume 300 pounds of food per day and produce 100 pounds of feces per day. The feces act as a natural fertilizer for seeds, which are spread throughout the landscape as an elephant travels. Over 90 species of trees depend on elephants for germination.
Unfortunately, elephants’ migration routes are disrupted by habitat degradation, fenced farmland, war, roads, and settlements. African elephants were originally found in 37 sub-Saharan countries. However, burgeoning civilization has fragmented some herds and trapped other herds together in small protected areas. This leads to competition for food, water, and shade, and aggressive behavior between elephant herds. The habitat becomes overpopulated and further degrades, which threatens the survival of other species that live there.
However, the predominant problem facing Asian and African elephants is ivory poaching. Between 1979 and 1989, half of Africa’s elephants were slaughtered for the ivory market. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were poached for ivory. Currently, 100 elephants are poached per day: that’s an elephant every 15 minutes. Current poaching rates exceed natural elephant birth rates. At this rate, African elephants may be extinct by 2020.
Global Conservation Force's lastest project is the initiation and implementation of a new community-based anti-poaching ranger team in eastern Kenya. This project is a unique opportunity to expand the protection efforts for wildlife and rural communities in an area heavily affected by poachers and terrorist activities. This new ranger team will guard a rare and precious ecosystem that is home to elephant, giraffe, painted dogs, pangolin, hippo, crocodile, hyena, lion, leopard, rare endemic antelope, and primates. This anti-poaching unit would bring much needed stability to a region where law enforcement is weak or completely non-existent. The ranger base will also serve as a community outreach center for the local communities.
Estimated Budget: $65,000
~ Training ($3,500)
~ Ranger gear, uniforms, etc. ($1,500)
~ Ranger base building ($5,000)
~ Community medical center (first aid)
~ Community education outreach center
~ Patrol vehicle ($35,000)
~ Fuel, tires, and repairs ($1,000 per month; $12,000 annually)
~ 6 Ranger salaries ($110 per ranger per month)