About the African Wildlife Foundation
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF – www.awf.org) was founded in 1961, is headquartered in Kenya, and is one of the leading international conservation organizations focused exclusively on Africa. AWF’s mission is to work together with the people of Africa to ensure the continent’s wildlife and wild lands endure forever.
AWF currently works in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and implements projects focused on land, species, and people. AWF’s land protection programs have helped improve the management of 164 million acres of land. Its species protection programs have improved the conservation status of 36 wildlife populations. Its enterprise programs have disbursed over $5 million to communities living in wildlife landscapes. Lastly, its education programs are providing thousands of primary school students with a better learning environment through improved school facilities, teacher training, and conservation education.
The long-term goal of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is to conserve the African rhino in viable and ecologically functional populations in their natural environments. AWF’s immediate goal is to stop any further decline of the African rhino while taking actions to promote this species increase in numbers. Because rhino populations are small and isolated, this goal may also entail maintaining genetic health by exchanging individuals through biological management and establishing new populations through range expansion programmes. Poaching of rhinos is fuelled by escalating demand for their horn and our rhino campaign is tied to stemming this demand. By 2018, our aim is to reverse rhino population declines in at least the following ten key populations:
Rhino populations currently under AWF support include Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa (~2,000 white and black rhino combined), Savé Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe (~150 black and white rhino combined), Kunene Region of Namibia (>100 desert black rhino) Tsavo West National Park in Kenya (about 90 black rhino), Chyulu Hills in Kenya (~24 black rhino) and Mosi oa Tunya in Zambia (10 southern white rhino). AWF often implements anti-poaching programs for rhino populations through local partners. The AWF approach includes investing in scouts and rangers, as well as equipment necessary for these groups to operate at full capacity.
According to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the proportion of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) in Africa continued to decline in 2015 from a high point in 2011, but still exceeds the natural population growth rate. A recent continent-wide survey called the Great Elephant Census found that around 144,000 savanna elephants have been killed between 2007 and 2014, and they continue to decline at a rate of around 8% per year. The most serious levels of poaching continue to be seen in Central and West Africa, where over 75% of all elephant mortality is due to illegal killing. In both Southern and Eastern Africa, however, the level of offtake is now below the sustainability threshold of 50%.
AWF has been working hard to address the rampant poaching of Africa’s elephants through a three pronged-strategy to stop the killing of elephants, stop the trafficking of ivory, and stop the demand for ivory. To stop the killing, AWF is supporting anti-poaching efforts in 14 landscapes that are home to a total of 221,000 elephants. In the years AWF has been supporting these sites, 10 of the 14 elephant populations are now increasing or stable. To stop the trafficking, AWF has trained 308 law enforcement professionals through judicial sensitization workshops, and deployed 12 ivory sniffer dogs and 25 handlers to mass transit sites in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. To stop the demand, AWF and its partners have produced public service announcements on the connection between ivory and elephant poaching, and these announcements have been viewed by millions of people in China, Hong Kong, Kenya and Tanzania.
1 Beyond the prevention of extinction, successful species conservation means ‘maintaining multiple populations across the range of the species in representative ecological settings, which replicate populations in each setting. These populations should be demographically and ecologically self-sustaining, healthy from disease, and genetically robust – and therefore resilient to climate and other environmental changes’’ (Redford et al. 2011. What does it mean to successfully conserve a (vertebrate) species? Bioscience 61(1): 39-48.).
2 Biological Management entails adjusting stocking densities, but also managing the densities of other browsers and habitat to maintain rapid, healthy population growth, to minimize inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity. Decisions to remove or introduce rhinos are based on population breeding performance, social behavior, genetic relatedness, rhino density relative to the area’s carrying capacity, vegetation conditions etc.