The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) announced on January 9, 2012 that it will provide more than R1,75 million to support 19 elephant conservation projects for 2012.
IEF-supported projects will protect elephants from poaching, seek solutions for human-elephant conflict, equip and train community conservationists, increase knowledge of the treatment and prevention of disease and educate people. The 2012 funding will add to the over R15 million total invested in conserving elephants since its inception in 1998.
"The future for African and Asian elephants is in our hands," said IEF Executive Director, Deborah Olson. "The elephants in zoos and circuses inspire support for the International Elephant Foundation. When someone sees, or perhaps touches, an elephant and gains a greater understanding of the animal he or she has known only from picture books and video, they are then motivated to take action to save these species from extinction."
IEF is a non-profit organization established in 1998 by a group of zoos, circuses and other elephant care facilities to enhance and promote elephant conservation around the world. The IEF Board of Directors includes representatives from institutions that collectively care for more than 150 Asian and African Elephants in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
The funding will be spread across six projects in Asia, and the following elephant conservation projects relating to African elephant projects:
- 2012 Waterborne Anti-poaching and surveillance operations on Lake Itezhi Tezhi and Kafue River in Kafue National Park, Zambia in support of Zambia's Wildlife Authority and the Community Resources Board.
- Mounted horse patrol anti-poaching unit for Mount Kenya, Kenya to patrol the identified poaching hot spots between the Imenti and Sirimon areas of the mountain. Mount Kenya Trust statistics indicate that more than 100 elephant have been killed in the last two and a half years.
- Program "My Elephant Neighbor," Burkina-Faso. West Africa. Exposing children to their elephant neighbors in a positive manner is the most effective way to involve them and their families in elephant conservation. This program offers a unique opportunity to see and learn about the local elephants. It will benefit elephant conservation both in the long- and short-term, as both children and their parents learn about the issues of the neighboring elephant population.
- Reduction of human/elephant conflict through beekeeping, Ghana, West Africa. The best strategy to prevent crop damage is to discourage the elephants from coming out of the forest. It has been shown that elephants will not approach beehives and this can be used as a barrier or fence between the forest and the farm crops. Beekeeping will also be an income generating activity for some of the local farmers as well as helping with pollination both within and outside of the forest.
- Capacity building by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Kenya. This multi-year partnership supports NRT as it develops the capacity and self-sufficiency of its constituent community conservancies in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management and natural resources-based enterprises.
- Waterways Project, Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF). This multi-year partnership constructs and equips marine stations that are positively impacting the ability of law enforcement to reverse poaching and to initiate water rescue for the communities that make their livelihood from the resources of the lake.