Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust works to build a sustainable future where wildlife and communities can thrive together. Today the DSWT is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
The DSWT runs a number of programs with the goal to complement the conservation, preservation and protection of Kenya’s wildlife. This includes anti-poaching, safeguarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.
In a three year period from 2010, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory. A concerted effort by NGOs and their partners has helped increase global awareness of the illegal ivory trade and its impact on elephant populations. As a result of this attention, and pressure being brought on governments to act, ivory trade bans passed in the USA and India and France and China have committed to banning its ivory trade.
Today, the poaching of elephants for their ivory remains a significant threat, with up to 25,000 animals a year still being killed across Africa. However, these domestic bans, coupled with enhanced security at a field level and efforts to reduce demand for ivory are starting to work. The work is not over, but these are positive developments.
All the while, there is a quieter threat to elephants, and other wild species: human population growth, which results in human wildlife conflict (HWC). As human populations expand rapidly in Africa, people are moving into areas previously only inhabited by wildlife. Farms, roads and even railway lines are appearing along ancient elephant migratory corridors. Competition for water, between wildlife and livestock is on the rise, as well as competition for food. With this comes conflict – as elephants come across farms of vegetables/fruits in areas where there used to be trees and, not knowing the difference, eat all the crops – potentially destroying a family’s livelihood in the process. Sometimes the conflict costs lives, both elephant and human. In Kenya, more animals were lost due to HWC in 2016 than to ivory poaching.
This TIE placement will help the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust create an overarching communications strategy to demonstrate the absolute need for the implementation of programmes to mitigate human wildlife conflict. It will support DSWT in attracting the necessary support to implement the solutions that will protect elephants and all wildlife, while enhancing the livelihoods of local communities.
Callum Cheatle from WPP is going to Kenya to work with DSWT. Stay tuned for updates!