Poachers and greed. Global demand for ivory has put African elephants at a crossroads. Hunting and trade in ivory have reduced the number of African specimens at a devastating rate. At the beginning of the 20th century, Africa was home to some five million individuals. Today, pending the completion of the Great Elephant Census this year, the population is estimated at less than 470,000 individuals. As with other raw materials, China’s growing demand disrupted the entire African ivory market at the end of the last decade. Since 2004, its price has skyrocketed. from 200 to 2000 dollars per ounce. The killing, the experts calculate, reaches more than 35,000 elephants each year.
The rangers of the Big Life Foundation, created in 2010 by the British photographer Nick Brandt, have been fighting against this carnage for five years. Among his achievements is the dismantling of the three main gangs of poachers that operated in a region that, until recently, was one of the hottest spots in ivory trafficking. Until its deployment, Amboseli’s elephants were being exterminated. In recent years, however, thanks to the Government’s awareness policies and the resources provided by entities such as Big Life or the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the trend has changed. Among the masáis, in addition, there has also been a change of mentality. Animals are perceived today as an asset that attracts tourism, investments and a hope to avoid the exodus of new generations to large cities in search of work.
Founded in 1977, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a reference in Africa for its Project for Orphans. At its headquarters, 27 young elephants struggle to overcome the trauma of losing their family. Someday they will follow in the footsteps of their 150 congeners already reintegrated into the herds of the Tsavo region. The Orphan Program of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of the most ambitious elephant conservation projects in Kenya. His example and that of the Big Life Foundation represent the commitment to respect the human being towards wildlife.