A new campaign aimed at uniting the tourism industry to promote awareness of the current elephant poaching crisis has been launched, with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) proud to be one of the beneficiary partners of this ground breaking initiative.
S.A.F.E (Safeguarding a Future for Africa’s Elephants), is a campaign by The Bodhi Tree Foundation (TBTF), which aims to build awareness and provide support to local field organizations, including the DSWT, working hard to conserve elephant populations, curb poaching and stem the demand for ivory. With tens of thousands of elephants killed annually in Africa due to the demand for ivory, S.A.F.E aims to educate and galvanise awareness within the tourism industry and travelers of this crisis.
In 2012, an estimated 36,000 elephants were killed for their ivory, accounting for ten percent of the population or one every 15 minutes. More than 90% of the African Elephant population has been slaughtered in the past 50 years alone, yet with 33.8 million tourists traveling to Africa in 2012, the loss of elephants has a tremendous impact on the global tourism industry and Africa’s economy. With no wildlife to view, travelers will disappear and subsequently, safari lodges and African tour operators will not be able to survive. Local communities, many who are reliant on funds from lodges, will suffer and be unable to protect whatever wildlife is remaining.
“The importance of wildlife tourism cannot be understated for Kenya” says Rob Brandford, UK Director of the DSWT. “The travel industry can play a long-lasting role in protecting elephants and we are delighted to be partnered with S.A.F.E whose support will greatly benefit our projects as we fight to protect elephants.”
The current poaching scourge means Africa’s wild elephants could be extinct by 2025 if no action is taken. As keystone species, habitats and entire eco-systems are dependent on the species for survival meaning their loss could render the environments in which they live to become unsustainable. The recognition by travel leaders all over the world of the implications of this crisis and need to take action immediately is imperative. “Wildlife and tourism in Africa are interdependent. If not our industry to unite and help prevent this,” says TBTF Co-Founder Jena Gardner, “then who? With so much vested and with a strong global voice, let us be the industry to be the first to take a stand, show we care and inspire other industries to follow.”
Partners and Supporters of the campaign include Absolute Travel, ProTravel, Uncharted Outposts, Wilderness Safaris and Singita. All donations to S.A.F.E. will fund beneficiaries’ fieldwork and projects specifically designed to preserve the African Elephant. As well as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, S.A.F.E. is currently partnering with other pioneering conservation organisations including African Wildlife Foundation, Save The Elephants, and WildAid.
You can find out about the campaign and learn ways in which the tourism industry can help by visiting http://www.saveafricaselephants.com