As many nations are currently in lockdown, understandably this pandemic is causing great stress and suffering in all areas of our society. Here at IEF we are completing our fourth week of sheltering in place with at least 2-3 weeks yet to go according to our government officials. We and our project partners have successfully fought many battles in our efforts to protect elephants but we have never faced a foe like Covid-19. Since most of our funding support comes in the form of donations from the general public, we are sincerely thankful, appreciative and in awe of our current and new friends and supporters who are still able to contribute to elephant conservation during this time. We are sensitive to the hardships that many of you are experiencing and know that you may not be able to make a donation right now but your concern for elephants and their habitat is just as strong. The increased support from those in a position to make larger contributions will offset those who can’t spare the funds, and combined with the continued support of our ever-growing IEF family of supporters, we will get through this together.

While most project activities are on hiatus, Michael Keigwin of Uganda Conservation Foundation reported this week: “We are in lockdown but some of the team in Murchison Falls are able to carry out important maintenance and anti-poaching support work, including opening up roads to the new IEF sponsored ranger station project sites in Ayago 3 and Atil, and erecting important fencing to protect solar power installations for digital ratio towers. The President of Uganda has allowed construction projects to continue so long as accommodations and hygiene is provided as set in guidelines established for reducing the spread of Covid-19. MFNP is a hugely important component of Uganda’s protected area network and home for elephants, lions, hippos and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. In the 1960’s MFNP was decimated of wildlife due to civil wars and then came the ivory poachers in the 1970s killing elephants with impunity due to the lack of law enforcement in the park. With IEF’s support since 2012, we have been able to add ten ranger posts in strategic locations throughout the park and the Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC) which just became operational this month! Whilst we are bracing for a huge surge in poaching due to the total loss of tourism dollars which supported many communities, thousands of individuals and most conservation and associated law enforcement activities, we now have rangers based in most corners of the park, in strength, well-trained and with new communication capabilities. We are now protecting 70% of the park and the two ranger stations slated to start construction in the next month due to IEF support will significantly increase that percentage. The construction team and the apprentices from the local community training center are ready to go as not only do they love showing their support for the rangers by building their accommodations but this is also a well-respected profession that will provide income for them and their families at a time when so many people are unemployed. To be honest, new construction is needed as the rangers and the community surrounding MFNP need motivation and distraction while being forced to stay at home. Bored and in three months-time, those unpaid have a higher probability of reverting to poaching. I know that IEF relies on the general public to provide the funds for the construction of these ranger posts and I wish I could thank each donor individually and “bump fists” with them since shaking hands is no longer advised. These donors are heroes.

Please continue to be safe and healthy by practicing social distancing and staying at home. With the current situation, it is much better to over-react in protecting yourself, your loved ones and others, than to under-react. We can recover from over-reacting, but not from the potential devastating consequences of under-reacting and thereby letting Covid-19 spread. The doctors, nurses, other health care workers, and first responders who battle this virus on the front lines putting themselves at great risk deserve not only our gratitude but also our assistance in reducing the number of new cases to zero. We owe them, because after all, we’re all in this together.

Conservation Video Awards

Voting for our second annual Conservation Video Awards is coming to an end on Wednesday, April 22nd! Visit our website to watch the video finalists and vote for your favorite!

2021 Conservation Grant Applications Delayed

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, IEF will not be soliciting proposals for our Conservation and Research grant program on our annual time frame at this time. Please follow our web site for further news and information.