Photo credit: Carly Vynne
Bush Warriors Founder, Dori Gurwitz, was only a teenager when he personally witnessed Kenya’s first burning of ivory stockpiles 22 years ago–an experience he will never forget.
Photo credit: Tony Karumba
In 1989, African wildlife conservation saw a historical event–one that many people did not think would happen. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) lit aflame a massive ivory stockpile, underscoring their zero tolerance for the illegal ivory trade. No matter what political thoughts people and governments around the world had about Kenya at that time, one thing was very clear: the government was seriously committed to the preservation of its wildlife, at all costs. It got to a point that game wardens were given permission to kill, should they confront a poacher. This zero tolerance policy worked and, despite all of the challenges associated with being a new and developing nation, Kenya rose as a leader in wildlife conservation. The eco-tourism industry exploded!
Originally featured on 17 December, 2011.
Parrots have the largest number of threatened species of all bird families. Over 100 of the 332 known parrot species are threatened with extinction in the wild, and the declines of about 78 of these are being fueled by habitat loss and fragmentation. Roughly 39 are heavily pressured by capture and nest poaching for the wild-caught bird trade.
Cavity-nesting forest specialists, like our African parrots, are particularly sensitive to forest degradation due to their reliance on large hardwood trees for sustenance and nesting opportunities. Deforestation rates in Africa are the second highest world, claiming over four million hectares of forest cover every year. Logging, wildfire, tree felling for use as fuel, the booming charcoal production industry, civil unrest, and conversion of land for agriculture and expansion of the human population are the primary forces driving the rampant destruction of critical African parrot habitat.
EIA’s personal letter highlights gap between promises and actions
The Environmental Investigation Agency has written a personal letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to warn him that significant failings within a key state department in China are making a mockery of his pledge to “vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products”.
‘Moses’, a suspected poacher in the Congo jungle, is burning crosses as death threats to National Park supporters, but it’s not enough to derail the Elephant Ivory Project team on to their mission to stop elephant poaching.
We just arrived this morning and I already want to leave Kisangani, a city of 700,000 in the center of Congo’s jungle. A cholera outbreak started in the city last week and left 27 dead—200 more cases have been reported. Andy and I are with Terese and John Hart, conservationists who have been working in the DRC for 30 years (check out their project Bonobos in Congo). They’ve agreed to help us plan our mission. But the question of where to start sampling elephant dung isn’t simple. The region Dr. Wasser wants us to sample most, the proposed Lomami National Park in the 25,000 square mile jungle known as TL2, has become even more dangerous.
It’s been a fortunate few days. We arrived in Kinshasa on Monday, exhausted from 36 hours of transit, and found the Congo just as hot as we left it two years ago. On Tuesday morning, we met with Dr. Teresa Hart, a 30-year veteran of conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Teresa first came to the country as a Peace Corp volunteer in 1974. She’s now in her tenth year studying bonobos, an ape found only in the DRC, in a 25,000-square mile block of forest known as TL2. The region is an elephant sanctuary on paper, but animals are disappearing there faster than ever.
“Research here leads to advocacy because it’s all being destroyed,” says Hart.