My Elephant Neighbor
Children of today will be the conservationists of tomorrow. Without their awareness and involvement, elephant conservation will be a difficult challenge in many parts of its range. In Burkina-Faso and West Africa, the human population is growing fast and will probably triple by 2050. In the decades to come, there will be great need of creativity and motivation to achieve peaceful human-elephant coexistence. Exposing children to their elephant neighbors in a positive manner is the most effective way to involve them and their families in long-term elephant conservation. Our philosophy is very simple: one protects what one appreciates and one appreciates what one knows intimately. The statistics of our program over the years clearly show that over 80% of the children who were offered the program had never seen an elephant before. In order to protect the local elephants in the future, children need to be positively exposed to them, preferably directly or at least indirectly, so that they will be part of their thoughts for the future. We are glad to see that the preliminary results of an independent research study on the impact of the program showed that exposing children changes their perception of elephants for the better.