As an organization dedicated to protecting biodiversity and wilderness, with 90% of its resources going to support on the ground conservation in Africa, FZS-US has long engaged in efforts to protect elephants and their habitats. Now, in response to the rapidly increasing poaching threat, FZS-US commits to expanding conservation support in four African wilderness areas with globally significant elephant populations: the Serengeti ecosystem and the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, the North Luangwa ecosystem in Zambia, and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. Its partners in each area will be the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), a German conservation organization with more than 60 years of experience in Africa and particular expertise in boots-on-the-ground anti-poaching, law enforcement, and community conservation in protected areas, along with national authorities responsible for area management and protection.
In the Serengeti (SNP), national partners will include Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzania Wildlife Division, and local districts. Partners will upgrade law enforcement by equipping a centralized Operations Room, increasing the number of rangers, instituting a ranger-based monitoring system (SMART), expanding the intelligence network, increasing aerial surveillance, and expanding the ranger vehicle fleet. Simultaneously, partners will expand community conservation efforts that provide opportunities for local communities living in the area.
In the Selous (SGR), the national partner will be the Tanzania Wildlife Division and efforts will include increasing the number of rangers trained, equipped and deployed, implementing SMART, expanding the intelligence network, establishing a centralized command center, increasing aerial surveillance, and expanding the vehicle fleet.
In North Luangwa, (NL) the national partner is the Zambia Wildlife Authority and partners will work to expand community conservation efforts into new areas, provide computers to park management, increase the area patrolled, and implement advanced ranger training.
In Gonarezhou (GNP), Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is the national partner and efforts will focus on increasing the number of rangers with advanced training, surveying park boundaries, expanding the intelligence network, upgrading ranger facilities, and increasing the frequency and areas of ranger patrols.
At the end of this two-year commitment, FZS-US expects to see measurable signs of improvement in security and a corresponding decrease in poaching in these key African landscapes.
FZS-US will measure deliverables bi-annually according to the following schedule:
September 2014: SNP Operations room complete. Digital VHF contract for SNP signed. Contract signed for expert Project Leader in SGR. Park management vehicle purchased in GNP. Additional training for GNP rangers. Expanded intelligence networks in GNP. All training courses complete in NL.
December 2014: SMART implemented in Serengeti. Additional vehicles purchased for SNP and SGR. Expansion of intelligence networks in SNP. Ranger trainers hired and training equipment purchased for SNP and SGR. Cadet ranger force increased in GNP. GNP park boundaries surveyed. GNP ranger facilities upgraded. Training reports completed and distributed in NL. Community conservation expanded in NL. Computers purchased for park management in NL.
June 2015: Construction begun on SGR Command Center. SMART implemented in SGR. Ranger training courses completed in SNP and SGR. Ranger supplies purchased for SNP and SGR. Area patrolled/surveyed increased in all areas. Frequency of patrols increased in GNP, SNP, and SGR.
December 2015: SGR Command Center complete. Intelligence network expanded in SGR.
It is widely acknowledged that one of the world's most urgent conservation crises is the explosion of elephant poaching. Iconic pillars of African wildlife, elephants inspire and attract people from all walks of life around the globe. They are flagship species that attract visitors to African parks, bringing tourist dollars and opportunity to countries and local communities. They are keystone species that have disproportionate effects on their ecosystems with consequences both for other wildlife and people. They are indicator species that provide critical information about the health of their ecosystems, and they are umbrella species, such that their survival guarantees the survival of innumerable and less visible other wildlife. Elephant numbers have fluctuated wildly over the past 30 years with the devastating poaching wave of the 1980s followed by a dramatic increase due to intense anti-poaching efforts and the worldwide ban on the ivory trade. Now the threat has returned, with an insatiable demand in Asia driving highly organized poaching syndicates, alongside a steady decrease in available habitat caused by cultivation and encroachment on protected area borders. Saving these iconic animals requires immediate and multipronged action involving multiple and coordinated stakeholders.