Africa is losing elephants at an alarming rate and wildlife poaching has spiralled out of control. Most South Africans are passionate about nature conservation, but what can we all do about it? For the first time in the world, an intrepid group of women explorers, have decided to bring the global spotlight on the plight of these gentle creatures and the people who protect them by embarking on an epic expedition across Africa.
The ELEPHANT IGNITE EXPEDITION will see a group of passionate females, from all walks of life, travel a distance of over 10 000kms through 10 southern African countries, visiting African organisations dedicated to the preservation of elephants that need our ongoing support. During the trip we aim to embrace: the unity of communities and nature working together, experience the power of individuals and animals, and the close bonds upheld in a family unit.
Our expedition members will get the opportunity to connect with current conservation, political and tribal leaders in various countries and foster knowledge-sharing between generations and nationalities.We will be visiting extraordinary people doing incredible research and anti-poaching work on the ground. By linking them together we expand their support base and on-going funding through increased awareness. Connected by a common goal to make a difference to Africa’s elephants, the group will embark on a journey with a purpose.
Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory in East Africa. That’s a staggering 30 000 elephants a year.
We’ve reached the tipping point where more elephants are being killed than are being born. We’re on a downward spiral to the extinction of one of the most iconic creatures on our planet.
Big Business has Big Consequences
The illegal trade in wildlife is worth an estimated $19-billion a year, putting it in the same league as the drugs, arms and human trafficking trades. It’s the fastest growing illegal trade globally.
Big Weapons and Big Profits
The most common poaching gun in East Africa is the AK47. According to gun policy officials the going rate for a gun in Kenya is around US$100 -130. The money that can be made from just one elephant tusk is up to US$240.
The sale of illegal wildlife products, specifically ivory in East Africa, is known to be funding terrorism and the illicit drug trade. The consequences of ivory trafficking are extraordinary with the entire region affected, from political destablization to a rapid decline in biodiversity.
There’s also the human cost: every year sees an increase in the number of game rangers killed in the line of duty trying to protect the animals. Of course, the hideously cruel manner in which these animals are slaughtered cannot be ignored. Even the largest land mammal on earth is no match for an AK-47 or poison.
So, who’s buying this ivory and why?
In China a tusk sells for more than US$2500 – its value therefor increasing tenfold by the time it is shipped out of Africa and it arrives in Asia. Carvings from ivory are status symbols, both decorative and religious in certain Asian countries, most notably China, Thailand and Vietnam. Interestingly, after China, the biggest market for ivory products is the United States.
There’s been a huge lack of education among consumers in the Asian markets as to where ivory comes from. Recent studies revealed that less than a third of consumers were aware elephants had to be killed to harvest ivory. A further 70% believed that tusks grow back like fingernails or that the tusks “fall out” naturally. But whatever the end-user reasons for using ivory, the bottom line is that it’s huge business for large criminal syndicates. Add government corruption, failing legal systems, porous borders and less-than scrupulous customs practices and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a thriving illegal trade in ivory.