Canopy Chronicles: Saving Africa's Majestic Elephants and Rhinos

ARC is committed to conserving the Eastern Arc rainforest of Tanzania for the millions of people who call it home, as well as for the rest of the world who depends on these forests to help mitigate global climate change, unveil life-saving plants for pharmaceuticals, and introduce us to and amaze us with the discovery of new species each year. Although our focus is on the rainforest, we are part of a much larger network of organizations and individuals who are working towards creating positive social and environmental change in Tanzania. We’ll be using our monthly Canopy Chronicles blog post to introduce you to local and global events that are shaping Tanzania. For the first Canopy Chronicles post we highlighted the United Nations’ International Year of Forests. This month we’ll bring awareness to the poaching crisis. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your comments below. 

Much of Africa, especially the Tanzania-Kenya border and the Serengeti, is in the midst of a rampant poaching that has devastated populations of elephants and rhinos - all for their ivory tusks. The last wave of poaching was in the 1980s, and despite bans on the sale of ivory (that has been established for twenty years), the ivory market has suddenly rebounded. But why? Although it has been shown to have no actual healing properties, there is a high demand for ivory in China and many other Asian countries that use powdered ivory for medicinal purposes. Ivory is also widely seen as a status symbol in China where ornate carvings are sold for thousands of dollars in flashy showrooms. While there is a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory, illegal poaching is increasing and thousands of dollars worth of tusks are being smuggled, relatively easily, into countries with high market demand.  

A Global Call to Action to Stop the Killing of the African Elephant
Written by Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson, with still photographs from their book “Walking Thunder”

The cause to prevent future poaching of Africa’s treasured wildlife is one that has impassioned many, including our partners and supporters. An ARC partner for several years, Tusk Trust was founded over two decades ago with the mission to address the poaching crisis in Africa (today the NGO also has programs in community development and environmental education).  Contributing Artist and acclaimed photographer Nick Brandt is the founder of the nonprofit organization the Big Life Foundation, which has been raising funds for the past year to support anti-poaching efforts in the Amboseli region of Kenya. According to Brandt, it is quite possible that 35,000 elephants are being poached each year, which is 10 percent of the entire population of Africa's elephants (at this alarming rate the entire population of Africa’s elephants will be extinct by the end of the decade). Renowned photographers and documentarians Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson are also Contributing Artists whose life work is to save the elephant from extinction. Their book Walking Thunder: In the Footsteps of the African Elephant (Merrell 2009) captures the majestic beauty of this creature through black and white photographs. We commend Tusk Trust, the Big Life Foundation and Cyril and Marie for their incredible work and contribution to anti-poaching efforts in Africa.  

Learn more about the Tusk Trust

Learn more about the Big Life Foundation

Learn more about Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s Conservation Photography