With the WWF recently warning us that nature is facing a global “mass extinction” for the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs, there couldn’t be a more important year for conservation. You might not have the budget or time to commit to a voluntour, but every visit counts.
Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks – the ivory often carved into ornaments and jewellery. Rhinos are also facing a similar plight, their horns a highly valued component of traditional Chinese medicine, practiced in China, Vietnam and other parts of East Asia.
Head for these one of these ten parks and reserves and make a difference on your safari.
New figures released following the results of this year’s Great Elephant Census show Africa’s savanna elephant population plummeted by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 and is declining at about eight percent a year. The survey funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen, suggests that Botswana has lost 15% of its elephants in the five years since the last survey was taken. That’s around 20,000! In August, at least 26 elephants in the Chobe National Park had their tusks removed by poachers – the park home to the greatest elephant herd in the world.
In the last year, Zimbabwe experienced a rise in the numbers of rhino killed – about 50 out of an endangered population of 700. At least 42 were said to be black rhinos. Sadly, in April, the Matobo National Park’s eight-year-old iconic black rhino, lovingly known as ‘Ntombi’, was shot dead by a group of five suspected poachers. In addition, in 2015, close to 60 elephants were poisoned in and around Hwange National Park.
According to IUCN’s African Elephant Status Report, Africa’s overall elephant population has seen the worst declines in 25 years, mainly due to poaching. Eastern Africa – the region most affected by poaching – has experienced an almost 50% elephant population reduction, largely attributed to an over 60% decline in Tanzania’s elephant population. Make your trip count and head for the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
South Africa is viewed as the primary custodian of Africa’s rhinos. With 18,796 white rhinos and 1,916 black rhinos as of last estimates at the end of 2010, this represents approximately 93% and 40% of the total white and black rhino populations respectively. If you’re conscious about conservation, the Kruger National Park should be on your safari list.
Namibia is often viewed as a success story, but sadly no country is exempt from the prolific poaching of rhinos and elephants. Only two months into 2016, after both aerial and foot patrols, a total of 34 rhino carcasses were discovered – 29 of them in Etosha National Park.
In April, the Uganda Wildlife Authority beefed up security and foot patrols in the Queen Elizabeth National Park following the death of five elephants in less than two months.
In June, South Africa’s Polokwane Game Reserve came under attack by poachers, the group killing a cow and calf and injuring three other rhinos.
A conservation success story, you can also our rhino mascot Inongwe and her two calves in Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. Our #SaveInongwe campaign helped to raise awareness of the poaching crisis in Southern & East Africa online. Zambia has brought both the black and white rhino back from the brink of extinction, the use of technology and 24-hour armed patrols keeping the rhino population in Livingstone safe since 2007, but more funding is needed to keep the poachers at bay and to provide well-equipped rangers on the ground.