Africa is being haunted by a horrific poaching tragedy as the illegal wildlife trafficking industry is booming. Government research shows that over thirty elephants are cruelly slaughtered per day by poachers in Tanzania alone and herd numbers are now less than a third of what they fifty years ago.
The African Wildlife Trust has initiated a conservation awareness initiative in collaboration with the Tanzanian government to raise awareness locally and globally on the urgent need for proactive protection of our threatened elephants and wildlife. The AWT Walk for Elephants involves a 22-day 650km hike from Arusha to Dar-es-Salaam from the 24th August to the 14th September 2013 to spread the message against endangered wildlife poaching.
AWT Founder, Pratik Patel, teamed up with the Tanzanian government Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in the fight against poaching in 2012. Through creating a team who has the ability to work across a public-private partnership in locations throughout the country, AWT believes Tanzania can transition conservation into a proactive instead of reactive sector and be set part as one of the most enterprising countries in wildlife and natural resource protection.
The African Wildlife Trust is working on a variety initiatives focussing on African Elephants to benefit broader efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade.
Thousands of people are expected to join the AWT Walk for Elephants en-route and various members of Parliament are participating to show support. There are local and international media also attending to document the initiative.
The AWT Walk for Elephants is proudly sponsored by Turkish Airlines, voted Europe’s best airline at the 2013 Skytrax passenger Choice Awards.
Turkish Airlines fly to 239 destinations around the world, including Kilimanjaro, where the Walk is to start. Corporate sponsorship is making a huge difference in conservation, providing assistance with the high costs of anti-poaching teams, high tech arms, night-vision goggles and drones.
Criminal gangs and militias are using sophisticated military ware to kill elephants and move ivory across borders and off the African continent into Asia. Proceeds from illegal killing of elephants are often used by criminal networks to undermine democratic rule in African states and to fund armed militias and conflicting rebel groups.
The iconic elephants’ ecological role in natural landscapes contributes to healthy ecosystems in many African countries. Illegal killing of elephants significantly reduces the ability of African countries to harness ever-growing tourism business opportunities.
Public support is urgently required before elephants are assigned to the history books. The cold, hard truth is that if poaching continues at its present rate elephants will be extinct in under a decade.