The Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) representing Africa’s hotel and tourism industry recently voiced its stand against poaching and affirmed poachers as ‘Africa’s Public Enemy No. 1.’ The Nairobi based organization pointed out not only the horrors of this illegal trade but also stated its grave and probable impact on the African wilderness.
With the increase in value and demand for elephant tusks and rhino horns, poaching has also doubled leading to cold-blooded massacre of African elephants and rhinos. Poaching has reached such levels of sophistication now that it is becoming difficult for authorities to counter it. According to Nick van Marken, leader of Deloitte's international Travel, Hospitality and Leisure practice, “Poaching in Africa is happening on an industrial scale. Poachers are using automatic weapons to slaughter entire herds” states Nick.
According to Lazaro Nyalandu, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources & Tourism Tanzania, "Poaching is a global problem needing a global solution. It is estimated that Tanzania has an elephant population of 100,000 today but this is cut by 30 a day by poachers.” Lazaro further adds that if this trend continues for a few more years, Africa’s elephant population would become extinct by 2025.
Combating poachers is a difficult situation given the continent’s vast expanse of lands. However, many anti-poaching organizations in Africa like the DSWT (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) and KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) are working jointly to effectively counter this barbaric trade. The DSWT & the KWS jointly runs eight fully equipped Anti-Poaching and De-Snaring Units in the Tsavo Conservation Area. These units are comprised of specialist armed Rangers who run patrol in the affected areas with vehicles, camping equipment, radios, GPS's and cameras. So far, the teams have been successful to remove more than 125,000 entrapments in the Tsavo Conservation Area.
Andrew McLachlan, VP Africa & Indian Ocean Islands, Carlson Rezidor, says, "Africa is so huge and the borders are so long that it's incredibly difficult to police. The answer has to be action at the point of demand to educate the consumers of ivory and rhino horn about the damage being caused by their desires."
For many families in Africa, poaching is a means of income. Hence, impeding the poaching activity would hamper the livelihoods too. Therefore, there needs to be a balanced solution towards this inherent problem. Wildlife in Africa generates large sources of revenue from tourism and sustains a major portion of the African economy. Hence, concern from the travel and tourism industry is apparently understandable. Many tourism organizations across Africa have taken up beneficial initiatives to help sustain the wildlife habitat. The AHIF donates 5% of its total revenue income to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which looks after the noble cause of looking after orphaned baby elephants and rhinos whose parents have been killed by poachers.
Angela Sheldrick from DSWT says: "Our action is only possible thanks to donors around the world, helping us combat the fight against poachers."