Fauna & Flora International
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$65 = will ensure rangers have the latest monitoring equipment, like binoculars with night vision and powerful torches, which will help rangers carry out night time observation to stop poachers and protect elephants and rhinoceroses
As World Awear’s most established partner, Fauna & Flora International has been making waves in the world of global conservation for over a century. What started as a mission to protect Africa’s large mammal populations from the dangers of over-hunting and habitat loss has led to wide-spread legislation that extends to vast stretches of the continent. FFI has paved the way for today’s global conservation infrastructure. Like the cool older sibling who seems to have everything figured out, other conservation organizations look on in awe as FFI continues to innovate and create lasting change when it comes to protecting threatened species and ecosystems across the globe.
The rangers that Fauna & Flora International supports come from a range of backgrounds. FFI employ’s local people as rangers to help create livelihood opportunities for local communities, particularly if it encourages them not to rely on poaching/hunting, etc. for income for food. In Kenya, where much of FFI’s rhino conservation work takes place, some of their rangers are ex-poachers and others are simply from the villages that border the conservancies that FFI works with.
What and How?
FFI helps the rangers detect poaching incursions and quickly respond to them before any animal can be found and killed. Kenya holds over 80% of the remaining population of east African black rhinos, and it would be a global disaster if the poachers were successful in wiping out these irreplaceable animals.
The dangers the rangers face are great, and growing – FFI has lost rangers working to protect mountain gorillas in previous years – but fortunately they haven’t lost any in Kenya to date. Poaching is big business, with well-resourced groups behind it which means a growing number of poachers are well armed. The poachers are well versed in ranger tactics in some cases, so they know to attack at night when visibility is poor. With the potential gains so high (rhino horn is now worth more than gold or cocaine and the tusks from a single male elephant are worth more than $300,000) it means poachers are willing to take greater risks.
It is difficult to pin any success down to any one conservation tool – but as an indication, the conservancies that FFI works with in Kenya have seen some huge achievements in recent years. Rhino poaching has increased by 900% over the past five years, yet Lewa Conservancy has reported that they lost no rhinos to poaching in 2014 – and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy now has the largest black rhino population in East Africa. Both of these conservancies are in Kenya and have sophisticated, well supported ranger programs in place. One program that has made a huge difference is the introduction of anti-poaching dog units, these dogs are highly trained and able to cover up to 7 times the area of a human ranger. Watch the video below to see one of these dogs in action.
Where and Why?
In terms of how FFI chooses which conservancies to support – it comes down to multiple factors, including whether FFI thinks they can make a difference in that particular area and whether they have the resources available to support that conservancy. FFI normally only works with conservancies (or indeed in countries) where they have been asked by local communities, NGOs or government to intervene – FFI will never impose on another country as they recognize that these natural resources belong to local people.
Donations will be distributed amongst projects depending on where the need at the time is greatest – the vast majority of FFI’s black rhino conservation takes place in Kenya, so it’s likely that donations will make their way there. At the moment, FFI’s work with Asian elephants in Cambodia is of particular importance, as they are trying to mitigate the effects of human-wildlife conflict – which in this area is often as a result of elephants eating or trampling crops or accidental deaths where people from the community have wandered into forests looking to extract natural resources.
Through the hard work of the rangers and the conservancies FFI supports, the rhino and elephant populations in these protected areas are stable or increasing. But the balance is delicate and as the rewards of poaching are so great, poachers have become better equipped and the challenge becomes greater day by day. That's why FFI needs support now, before the tables can be turned.
SPECIES INFO AND FACTS
The easiest way to distinguish between the African and Asian elephant is that the Asian elephant has smaller ears. There are plenty of other subtle differences such as a more arched back in the Asian elephant as well as very thin eyes and a yellow hide in the summer. An interesting fact is that most female Asian elephants lack tusks, unlike those in Africa; if female Asian elephants do possess tusks, they are termed tushes and can only be seen when the female opens her mouth.
The Asian elephant historically roamed from Iran to Indonesia and China but now only remains in highly fragmented populations across 13 countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were an estimated 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, global population estimates are 40,000 – 50,000, but a lack of reliable up-to-data suggests that this figure could actually be much lower, with possibly only 30,000 animals remaining in the wild. Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, hunting and conflict with human populations.
The Black Rhinoceros is smaller than the White Rhinoceros and is characterized by its hooked-lip, which it uses to feed on leafy plants, branches, shoots, thorny wood bushes, and fruit.
Black rhinos actually have dark yellow brown to dark brown or dark grey skin, not black, and they can weigh up to 1,400 kg. They have two horns, the front horn averaging about 50 cm in length. Rhino horns are not attached to the skull and are made of keratin, not bone. Keratin is the same material found in human hair and fingernails. A rhino's horn will continue to grow throughout the animal's lifetime. There are four different types, or subspecies, of black rhino living in different areas across Africa. Three subspecies, including the western black rhinoceros, have been declared extinct. Still threatened, but back from the brink, illegal killing of rhinos for their horns is still the primary threat to rhinos in East Africa. Poaching in the 1970's and 80's decimated black rhinoceros populations across Africa, with numbers plummeting from 100,000 to 4,000.
Today black rhinos are found in habitats ranging from desert in south-western Africa to the Montane forests of Kenya. The eastern black rhino is one of the most endangered rhino subspecies in the world with only around 700 individuals remaining.
All of the information found on this page was provided by Fauna & Flora International.