Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
With a population of between 4,000 and 5,000 elephants, Burkina Faso is home to the largest remaining elephant population in West Africa. A vital habitat for elephants in Burkina Faso is Park W, a 10,000km squared transboundary Protected Area that spans three countries – Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger.
Shelley Waterland, Programmes Manager for Born Free, recently travelled out to Park W to meet the anti-poaching team desperately trying to protect elephants from the criminal gangs determined to kill them for their ivory. Tragically, the recent upsurge in demand for elephant ivory in China and the Far East has caused alarming levels of elephant poaching inside the Park. The anti-poaching teams are ill-equipped to deal with the sophisticated weaponry of the poachers – both elephants and the people trying to protect them are losing their lives.
Shelley reported “I’ve travelled extensively in Africa but have never before been somewhere where the elephants were so terrified. At the first sign of human activity they ran for cover. Where previously it was easy to see elephants inside the Park, now they are in hiding and it has become a fight for survival.”
The poachers are not only killing elephants, they are also targeting other animals for meat while they are camped inside the Park. The criminals also start massive bush fires in an attempt to cover up their tracks – causing serious damage to the environment, and disturbing all the animals living there, including lions and leopards.
Born Free Foundation has raised funds to support the anti-poaching teams in Park W, which comprise 25 rangers and a number of community Eco Guards. We are very pleased to have been able to provide them with new uniforms, GPS units, first aid kits and other basic equipment. However, much more is needed. Currently the anti-poaching teams have no means to communicate with each other and there is no telephone signal inside the Park. This means that if they spot poachers, or if one of them is injured, they have to cycle up to 100km for help. Radio communications equipment is urgently needed. The teams also need support with transport – currently they have just 8 bicycles among 25 men.
Can you help us to help the anti-poaching team fighting to protect this highly vulnerable elephant population? To support the anti-poaching team, please contact email@example.com.