CBFP Partner for the Month: April 2015 - African Wildlife Foundation - AWF Gives Africans a Voice in Fight Against Wildlife Trade

 

 

For the past few years, the African conservation group African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has addressed the illegal wildlife trade by working to: (1) Stop the killing on the ground by strengthening anti-poaching efforts around critical African wildlife populations; (2)  Stop the trafficking of wildlife parts out of the continent by establishing a best-in-class canine detection program that can be deployed to key African ports and by providing magisterial training to sensitize magistrates, prosecutors, customs agents and others around the issues and laws related to wildlife crime; and (3) Stop the demand through a public awareness campaign in Asia to educate the public about the impact of their ivory and rhino horn demand...

 

The illegal wildlife trade is a big business, spanning the world over and raking in revenues of up to US$23 billion per year. More than 35,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are being killed in Africa each year to supply this trade, and the crisis has reached a tipping point. If the wildlife trade continues to flourish and poaching continues unabated, deaths will eventually exceed birth rates for some of Africa’s most iconic megafauna.

 

For the past few years, the African conservation group African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has addressed the illegal wildlife trade by working to:

 

  • Stop the killing on the ground by strengthening anti-poaching efforts around critical African wildlife populations;
  • Stop the trafficking of wildlife parts out of the continent by establishing a best-in-class canine detection program that can be deployed to key African ports and by providing magisterial training to sensitize magistrates, prosecutors, customs agents and others around the issues and laws related to wildlife crime; and
  • Stop the demand through a public awareness campaign in Asia to educate the public about the impact of their ivory and rhino horn demand.

 

Such a multi-tiered approach addresses all the primary aspects of the supply chain. AWF recognized, however, that beyond these efforts, Africans still needed a voice in the fight against wildlife trafficking. AWF has therefore leveraged its decades-long history in Africa to launch a new public awareness campaign in Africa about the wildlife trade. The campaign, “Thrive,” is being conducted with WildAid, AWF’s primary partner in its Asian public awareness efforts. Its tag line—for Africa to thrive, its wildlife must survive—makes an oblique reference to the fact that wildlife tourism contributes substantially to sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

 

Roll out in East Africa

 

The campaign is being rolled out slowly to begin introducing the idea to African audiences that wildlife crime is something that affects everyone, whether they live in rural areas alongside wildlife or not.

Efforts therefore began with a bus wrap around AWF’s company bus in Nairobi, where the organization is headquartered. The bus wrap featured a photo of an elephant in the crosshairs of a weapon, with an African standing in front of the elephant as if to protect it, his hand up to the viewer to gesture “stop.” The accompanying message urged Kenyans, in Swahili and in English, to stop the poaching of wildlife in Africa.

In February, AWF joined with other conservation groups to sponsor a concert during the Kenya Wildlife Festival, with proceeds benefiting elephant conservation—reinforcing the conservation message in a different venue. A music video featuring popular Kenyan singers is currently in the works.

Meanwhile, in Tanzania, AWF posted billboards in November 2014 at key intersections outside of the city of Arusha, offering a reward for information that might lead to the arrest of poachers. The timing was strategic: Because the Tanzanian government was hosting a regional summit on wildlife trafficking in Arusha around the same time, the billboards were able to springboard off of media coverage, and citizens’ growing awareness, of wildlife crime issues.

WildAid and AWF have followed up on the billboards by reaching out to religious leaders in Tanzania, who can be influential in convincing everyday Africans to help protect their natural heritage. In addition to spreading the message with their congregations, these leaders may also star in public service announcements.

 

Wider distribution

 

Just as public awareness campaigns around HIV/AIDS, public health and other topics can result in behavioral change, the “Thrive” campaign aims to change people’s attitudes about wildlife and their environment—topics that may do not register highly in the course of most Africans’ day-to-day lives. If successful, the campaign could transition to offering new information on other environmental concerns, such as land use, climate change, water security and more.

For now, AWF and WildAid are looking forward to the campaign gaining momentum and spreading our anti-poaching message to a wider audience across the African continent—not just in East Africa but also in Southern, Central and West Africa. From heads of state to local farmers, we hope that the campaign will give Africans the chance to take ownership of the anti-poaching message, be an active part of wildlife conservation discussions and, ultimately, help ensure that Africa and its wildlife not only survive, but thrive.

 

For more Information, please contact: Mayu Mishina (mmishina@awf.org)

 

 
The credit information should be available with these photos, but just in case:
 
  • Billy_Dodson-la_20C0080: African Wildlife Foundation/Billy Dodson
  • IMG_12124: African Wildlife Foundation/Peter Chira
  • JS-Makuyuni DSC01716: African Wildlife Foundation/John Salehe
  • WildAid_TZ-Meetings1: WildAid  
  • WildAid_TZ-Meetings2: WildAid 
 

 

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