Space for Giants

Preventing illegal killing of giants

We are currently experiencing a dramatic surge in the poaching of elephants. The number of elephants being slaughtered has not been seen since the ‘elephant holocaust’ between the 1970s and 1990s. Some estimates suggest that up to 100 elephants per day are being killed for their ivory. Today rhinos are being killed in even the most heavily protected private sanctuaries. Globally it is the growing demand in East Asia, particularly China, driving the surge in poaching, while poverty, the availability of illegal firearms and poor governance is enabling poaching to happen locally. Although this is a challenging environment to work in there are meaningful actions that we are taking to protect elephants and the other wild animals that share their range:

Community Scouts

We employ and train community members as scouts who patrol the areas they live and work in, at the request and with the support of their local communities. Scouts monitor and report incidents of poaching to the wildlife authorities. They are a critical bridge between conservationists and local communities and can be a powerful deterrent to poachers. In areas that are highly insecure, such as in the north of our project area, we are working with our partners to train and deploy security personnel with Kenya Police Reservist status. (This gives them the same powers as police officers.) These community scouts serve the dual purpose of protecting local people from armed bandits while also protecting wild animals from poachers.

MIKE (Monitoring the illegal killing of elephants)

We support the Kenya Wildlife Service to implement the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) system in the Laikipia Ecosystem and wider area. This system was developed under the auspices of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to help gauge the impact of the trade in ivory on elephant populations. We systematically collect and report information on elephant carcasses that are found in our project area. In 2012 we are recruiting a dedicated MIKE officer to help build the capacity of local conservancies and community groups to collect MIKE data and to ensure this data is cleaned and verified before we pass it on to the KWS.

Law Enforcement

We provide field days for conservationists and law enforcement agents, including local magistrates, to come together and share experiences on anti-poaching work and the prosecution of crimes against wildlife. The idea here is to improve collaboration and the quality of law enforcement work in order to ensure that those caught poaching giants or trading in their parts receive the highest penalties possible.

International Lobbying

We are working with our partners internationally to lobby for both a change in the international laws that have allowed ivory to be traded legally and to mobilize leading public figures in China to champion elephants and other species with a view to stemming demand for wildlife parts.

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