Last week, the world was outraged to hear that the US Administration was considering lifting a ban on importing elephant and lion trophies. Over the weekend, it was announced that the decision was "being reviewed". The President has since tweeted that he'd be, "very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animals." Thanks to all of our supporters for making their voices heard! A final decision will be announced next week, and we will all be watching.
image credit: @axelfassio#worthmorealive#wildlifetrumpstrophies#saynotoivory#elephants#conservation#bekindtoelephants#africanwildlife
A SCALY SURPRISE
It was meant to be a bust, not a rescue mission.
Recently, Big Life's intelligence team received information about a pangolin for sale, and agreed to meet the dealer to negotiate a price. At the meeting point, the dealer handed over a sack. The Big Life officer, posing as a possible buyer, opened it to see a body curled up at the bottom. Lifeless. Until, unexpectedly, a twitch. The small animal was clearly stressed and confused, but still alive.
Hiding his excitement, the officer handed the sack back to the dealer, and the Kenya Wildlife Service arrest team moved in as planned. It was all over for this wildlife trafficker in a matter of moments. Thankfully, that was not the case for the pangolin.
Had everything gone according to the dealer’s plans, this animal would have ended up dead, with it’s scales sold to feed another myth of Eastern medicine. Instead, it is living out an alternate ending, having been released into Tsavo National Park after being checked by the vet.
The arrested suspect, meanwhile, is awaiting trial with a bond set at KSh 5 million (approximately US 50,000). This is the cost of being caught, and Big Life’s intelligence unit is working day and night to make sure that as many people as possible are paying it.
Giraffe are another iconic feature of Africa and sadly, like many others, their numbers are dropping steadily. All 4 species of giraffe are threatened by, among others, habitat loss and bushmeat poaching. In the Amboseli ecosystem Big Life is working to protect these enchanting creatures.
Photo by: @axelfassio#giraffe#amboseli#Kenya#rangers#biglifefoundation
Tim, Amboseli's most frequent crop-raider, was recently found casually foraging just outside community farms at sunset. Likely waiting until nightfall to begin his nightly crop-raiding ritual. But Big Life rangers will be watching! Thanks to a GPS tracking collar (funded by @WildlifeDirect) and a smartphone app (created by @savetheelephants) rangers are able to minimize damage caused by Tim and his pals by intercepting him before he enters farming areas, or shortly thereafter. This technology, combined with dedicated rangers, is significantly reducing economic loss to farmers and therefore reducing the likelihood Tim will be speared again in retaliation for crop damage.
Photo by: @ryan.wilkie.photos#elephants#farms#conflict#HWC#community#conservation#rangers#biglifefoundation#ste@amboseli_trust#Amboseli#kenya
Recently, Big Life paid livestock owners from Olgulului Group Ranch (surrounding Amboseli National Park) $36,229. Why? Because Big Life's Predator Compensation Fund (PCF) reimburses livestock owners for a portion of the value of animals killed by predators, BUT only on condition that the community does not kill predators in retaliation.
Normally payments are made every two months, but in this case the payout covered the losses of 1,218 livestock killed in 763 incidents between 1 March and 31 August. Despite all of these livestock deaths, zero lions were killed in retaliation across this 400,000-acre area so far this year.
This program, along with others, has helped predator populations recover within the ecosystem, showing that while the desire to kill is strong, economic incentives are stronger.
Many of the 2,000+ elephants Big Life works to protect spend much of their lives on community land, outside of national parks. These community areas, where Big Life operates, are therefore critical for the survival of elephants and all other wildlife in the region. And it is because of this that our extensive network of rangers and informers, employed from the community, is so important. They are the eyes and ears for those that cannot defend themselves against human exploitation.
Thanks to the work of Big Life rangers, our predator compensation fund and Maasai Olympics programs, and collaboration with partners, lions within the Amboseli ecosystem are thriving.
Our partners, Lion Guardians, have recorded a tripling of the lion density in their study area (which is largely within our area of operation) within the last decade. While this is phenomenal, there is still work to be done. Lions are being killed in surrounding communities, whom have little to no conservation initiatives.
Help us expand our programs by donating today. Follow the link in our bio.
Photo by Big Life's @jeremy.goss#lioncub#lion#community#conservation#PCFworks#maasaiolympics#rangers#biglifefoundation#lionrecovery
Thank you @elephantcrisisfund, for your support of our aerial teams and rangers!
Eyes in the Sky …. Elephants in the Amboseli ecosystem are receiving improved protection from @biglifeafrica's aerial teams and rangers. Big Life has rangers stationed over 1.6 million acres in Kenya, and aerial monitoring is the most effective way to track elephants and the threats to them over such a big area. Thanks to funding from the ECF, there has been increased frequency of aerial patrols, faster response to poaching and human-wildlife conflict incidents and more effective responses to cases of injured elephants thus allowing for faster and safer treatment. BLF has been able to have a bigger impact on a bigger area! #ElephantCrisisFund#Elephants#WildlifeConservation#Kenya. Photo Credit: Jeremy Goss
And just like that, in an area without permanent water, we have our very own lake!
Yesterday afternoon the sky opened and the natural pans filled, to the delight of wildlife, the community and their livestock.