You ever heard of Malawi? It is a small African country not usually associated with wildlife like Kenya, or even Tanzania it’s northern neighbor.
Malawi is home to around 16 million people, over half in poverty. According to the International Monetary Fund’s classification Malawi is considered the poorest country in Africa! So you can imagine… poaching is a huge problem. Poaching of both wildlife and trees.
The elephants are poached for their ivory tusks and for bush meat. The trees are cut and used to make charcoal. The latter is sold commercially and responsible for much of the deforestation in Malawi and other African countries.
Scouts make a big difference!
However, between Lilongwe and Salima, in central Malawi, a group of special people, along with a dozen anti-poaching scouts protect the elephants and their trees.
The largely unknown Thuma Forest Reserve is home to a small population of elephants, buffalo and numerous other mammals.
… (larger) game include greater kudu, bushbuck, baboon, vervet monkey, bush baby, leopard, cerval, spotted hyena, genets, African civet, warthog, bush pig, porcupine as well as a number of smaller antelopes like Sharpe’s grysbok, common duiker and klipspringer. But Thuma Forest Reserve is not only of interest for these mammals. There is a variety of trees and plants, birds, insects, and other animals which make the two reserves an important biodiversity hotspot in Malawi. [Wildlife Action Group]
Here in this rugged wooded terrain the encroachment of humans is this unique ecosystem’s big threat. This is where Lynn Clifford (field manager for the Wildlife Action Group) and her team work tirelessly to protect the habitat and the wildlife.
At the forefront of this crusade are a remarkable group of scouts (wildlife rangers)
These young men, recruited from the surrounding communities, work in teams of four. Their assignments are demanding. Their work hours like any emergency responder. Their pay low. Their dedication high. Their stamina extraordinary.
Scouts are responsible for…
- Detecting any and all poaching activity
- Apprehending suspected poachers (when impossible due to danger or distance, then…)
- Chasing potential poachers out of the reserve
- Documenting suspected poaching activity (footprints, remains, etc.)
- Removing snares
- Counting and documenting status and location of game
- Driving elephants out of surrounding villages and farms
All in all, the scout is the boots on the ground person protecting the elephants and their environment. This is very good.
This from Lynn Clifford, the field manager, in a recent email:
Since you left we have caught two poachers killing animals and one has gone to jail for 6 years and the other for 3 years. How brilliant a deterrent is that. One actually tried to shoot a scout!
There is only one serious problem!
Twelve scouts are not enough. Not enough to cover this huge area. Twice as many scouts are needed to adequately assure the safety of the forest for the elephants.
Sponsor a scout, save an elephant
In 2016 we sponsored one scout, during 2017 let’s up that to at least two.
It takes only $775 for one scout, that’s only $1,550 for two.
Let’s show we’ve not forgotten the elephants of the Thuma Forest.