By Gary Feuerberg
Poaching and international trafficking of elephant ivory and rhino horns has worsen in the last couple of years, and now the future of elephant and rhino populations in central Africa are in jeopardy. The prices and demand for these animal parts are soaring in Asia.
Wildlife conservationists are fighting back, pilot-testing new technologies, such as drones and DNA analysis, and seeking improved ranger training.
The battle between the poachers and the conservationists may be won or lost on whoever has the superior technology. Programs that come to the aid of the beleaguered rangers also show promise in helping to reverse the trend.
“We see a crisis unfolding before our eyes, an unprecedented rate [of poachers\ we haven’t seen for close to a decade,” said Crawford Allan, World Wildlife Fund senior director, and author of several publications on wildlife trafficking, species conservation, and wildlife enforcement.
Allan said technology is more important now than ever in meeting the crisis. “The technology that is currently available is not affordable or transferable for protecting elephants and rhinos for conservation purposes,” Allan said Oct. 31 at a news conference at the National Press Club.
The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, WWF, and African Parks sponsored this news conference and a workshop for experts from government, NGOs and technology firms. The three organizations have joined together in a partnership to combat wildlife trafficking in Africa.
Allan said that protecting wildlife, such as elephants and rhinoceroses, has changed dramatically, with increasing demand from Asia, and “poachers who own the night,” rangers “underequipped and under resourced,” with the “frightening job to guard wildlife” against well-armed opponents, militias and terrorists. More....