SA women join forces on pan-African Elephant Ignite Expedition


Cape Town - The African continent is losing elephants at an alarming rate - every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory in East Africa. That’s a staggering 30 000 elephants a year. 

100 000 elephants were killed by poachers in just three years, and Central Africa has lost 64% of its elephants in a decade. According to wildlife conservation journalist Scott Ramsay, the African elephant saw a 97% decline in the specie in less than a century

The statistics are shocking and the consequences frightening. 

Africa has reached the tipping point where more elephants are being killed than are being born, which means we are on a fast and downward spiral to the extinction of one of the most iconic creatures on our planet. 

But with all the hopelessness surrounding the African elephant's fate, how can ordinary South Africans who are passionate about nature conservation help turn around these statistics? 

One group of passionate and powerful women have decided to take action in aid of elephant conservation in Africa - as one way of fighting for these iconic species' survival. 

The Elephant Ignite Expedition will leave from Durban on 9 August this year, three days ahead of World Elephant Day on 12 August 2016. 

Elephants are known for their strong matriarchal bonds and family structures, so the metaphor behind the women on the Elephant Ignite Expedition is representative of so much more than just the ladies and their journey across the continent. 

"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," they say.

The group of 13 women, six permanent crew and seven alternating crew, will 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.  

"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. 

To put matters into perspective, this is what the powerful women of EIE are going up against: 

Big Business with Big Consequences

The illegal trade in wildlife is worth an estimated R264-billion a year (from $19-billion) putting it in the same league as the drugs, arms and human trafficking trades. 

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 destabilisation to a rapid decline in biodiversity.

It’s the fastest growing illegal trade globally. 

Big Weapons and Big Profits, at even Bigger Costs

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 between R1 400 and R1 800. 

The money that can be made from just one elephant tusk is up to R3 330.

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. The plight of the Rangers was highlighted again on 31 July, when the world honoured wildlife protectors on #WorldRangerDay. 

WATCH: South Africans pay tribute to Ranger heroes on #WorldRangerDay

If you'd like to help the EIE, you can 'donate an elephant to save an elephant'. 

You can also: 

- Donate money to organizations like Save the Elephants  and WildAid 
These organisations are affecting change both in Asia (to reduce demand among consumers), and in Africa (to help protect elephants in the wild from poachers).

- Visit the national parks of Africa where elephants still live

Kruger, Chobe, Gorongosa, Mana Pools, Hwange, Addo Elephant, and Etosha. Your tourism money provides a valuable source of income and employment for local communities, many of which have to live in close – and sometimes dangerous - proximity to elephants. 

- Speak up

Talk to your friends, your family and your colleagues. Spread awareness.

What to read next on Traveller24

#ShockWildlifeTruths: 'Every 15 minutes an elephant is brutally slaughtered for its tusks'

WATCH: South Africans pay tribute to Ranger heroes on #WorldRangerDay

#ShockWildlifeTruth: SA wants to resume trade on Ivory

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, immediately!
36% - 1857 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
27% - 1401 votes
No, I don't think they need it
37% - 1889 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo