While millions across the globe are furloughed and out of work, there are still rangers and community wildlife guards being deployed into the field. Tsavo Trust, our conservation partners, who run the Big Tusker Project have sent us an update on how COVID-19 has changed their operations and negatively impacted their abilities to protect the majestic big tuskers and iconic cows of Tsavo National Park. Here’s an update from Richard Moller, c0-founder and CEO of Tsavo Trust and one of Kenya’s most respected hands-on conservation project managers:

“The coronavirus has completely shocked and shaken the world. Protecting the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) is becoming increasingly challenging as thousands of people lose their jobs and the reliable mainstream income following the overnight disappearance of tourism and related services in this area which has negatively impacted thousands of people. This in turn has had a knock-on effect towards wildlife as many of these people now have to rely on natural resource extraction from the Tsavo National Parks – essentially bushmeat poaching has already increased! This situation will only worsen as more people lose their jobs and livelihoods become more challenging.

For the last 7 years the Tsavo Trust has been working alongside the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as a meaningful partner to protect the TCA. Whilst in full operation (prior to COVID-19) we operated 6 mobile ground teams: 4 conducting anti-poaching activities and 2 monitoring/research teams; 2 pilots running aerial surveillance over the entire TCA (using Super Cub aircraft); act as partners and stewards in generating community conservancies (currently Kamungi and Shirango) as well as maintaining an animal welfare program (rehabilitation and release of wild animals).

COVID-19 and the global economic shutdown has prompted significant cost cutting strategies to daily operations and consequently operating capacity has reduced by at least 40% so far.

  • Ground units halved from 6 to 3 teams
  • Aerial reconnaissance reduced from 75 to 50 hours flight per month
  • Scaled salary reductions of between 30 and 60%
  • Measures have been taken to stockpile basic food supplies for the local communities near Tsavo Trust HQ and within Kamungi Conservancy

We totally understand that all face many and varying challenges under today’s strange world with COVID-19 dominating all. However, should anyone wish to support Tsavo’s iconic great Tuskers, this is when they (elephants) need you most.”

#AskAConservationist

Check out the next edition to our #AskAConservationist series! This one is with PhD researcher Lynn Von Hagen about her work on two different projects in Kenya.
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Photo courtesy of Lynn Von Hagen

Greetings from Mutaanzi David from Zambia! The little guy pictured here is the first wild born elephant by an orphanage-raised mother in Kafue National Park (KNP). His mom, Chamilandu, is now 14 years old (rescued at 1.5 years old) and had been free roaming in KNP for 4 years before she gave birth. His name represents his strong history: “Mutaanzi” means ‘first born’ in local Ila language and “David” was chosen in honour of David Shepherd the Founder and Patron of Game Rangers International.

Photo and story courtesy of our partners at Game Rangers International.