We need to help protect them.
African elephant and rhinoceros poaching has escalated in the past few years. At current rates, wild African elephants could go extinct in the next 15-20 years and wild black rhinoceros could go extinct in the next 5 years. When these megavertebrates are killed, this impacts local ecotourism and changes the landscape of the parks, which also impacts biodiversity. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has partnered with the Tsavo Trust to help protect elephants and rhinos in the largest national park in Kenya. Using both aerial surveys and ground patrols, Tsavo Trust helps prevent poaching in an effort to keep these iconic animals around for future generations.
Saving Wild Elephants and Rhinos
The Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) program at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is changing the world one quarter at a time. Thanks to your support, in May 2016, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo sent $25,000 to the Tsavo Trust in Africa to help save African elephants and rhinos with their aerial surveillance efforts.
“Elephants roam through much of Africa, but their numbers have been drastically reduced due to heavy poaching,” Dr. Liza Dadone, Director of Animal Health and Conservation, said. “In recent years there has been increased poaching pressures in Kenya, and we felt we could make a difference through our support of the Tsavo Trust.”
Tsavo East and West National Parks are the largest national parks in Kenya (22,000km squared and a further 20,000km of dispersal areas). Most of the parks aren’t fenced, but contain the largest population of elephants in Kenya. Census numbers indicate there are approximately 14,000 elephants in the parks. The Tsavo is also home to some of the last remaining iconic “big tuskers.” Big tuskers are elephants with more than 100-pound ivory tusks on each side that scrape the ground. While previously common around Africa, elephants with large tusks have been preferentially poached over the years. Because such a high number have been eliminated, their genetics are very rare. In Tsavo National Park, even with all the human pressures, the big tusker gene pool remains viable.
“As of November 2015, there were 25 bull tuskers (10 super tuskers with ivory to the ground and 15 emerging tuskers) and seven cow tuskers regularly spotted from aerial surveys,” Dadone said. “This is likely the last viable population of big tusker elephants in the world, and we need to help protect them from poaching.”
The Tsavo National Parks along with the Ngulia Rhino Sancutary, located in Tsavo West, are home to just over 100 black rhinoceros – these rhinos are heavily protected in an effort to save them from poaching operations in the region as well.
“We’ve partnered with the Tsavo Trust because we believe in their field conservation efforts and feel they are effective in protecting both their elephant and black rhino populations alongside the Kenya Wildlife Service who take a lead role,” Dadone said. “This is done with aerial surveillance from a light airplane that provides eyes in the sky, and with daily anti-poaching drives through the park for eyes and ears on the ground. Based on these observations, they can be more effective at arresting poachers and, thus, deterring future poaching. Our $25,000 donation will help pay for the surveillance of at least 3,489 miles per month for the year equivalent to 600 hours of flight.”
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is currently the only zoo in the United States to support the Tsavo Trust. They are also supported by Zoological Society of London, Kenya Wildlife Service, Save the Elephants, Wildlife Conservation Network, Elephant Crisis Fund, TUSK Trust, Ndovu Trust, The Askari Project, International Elephant Foundation, Saving the Survivors, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many Kenyan individual supporters.