Saving Animals from Poaching

CTV News’ investigative journalism gem W5 recently re-aired their excellent show Gambling on Extinction. Working with broadcasters from 15 countries, the producers present an overview of the current sad situation of poaching and international sales of ivory and rhino horns.

Every 15 minutes, a wild elephant gets killed by poachers. In iconic Kruger National Park, 1,000 rhinos a year are poached. The numbers are depressing. Yet there are dedicated people risking their lives to save the magnificent animals, and they may have just developed a winning strategy.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has decided to try out tenBoma, the creation of a network to stop a network (of poachers). It uses similar techniques to how military intelligence units have predicted and prevented some terror attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The idea is to combine human sourced information with satellite surveillance, drones and GIS mapping data. The inputs are then analyzed using sophisticated computer software and interpretation by a trained intelligence analyst. Once poachers are arrested, the police can sometimes find the middlemen and ‘kingpins’ of the poaching network.

tenBoma is named after the Kenyan community policing philosophy of “Ten Houses” – in which each household gets to know and look out for 10 neighbors and report any abnormalities to security officials, thus providing a network of information to help catch criminals.

More good news happened on World Elephant Day (August 12) this year. eBay, Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo! announced they have united to adopt a new policy framework that will help protect animals from illegal online trade. IFAW has been fighting this online animal trafficking since 2004.

W5 also gave a ray of hope by highlighting how conservation organizations are beginning to try to stop the demand for ivory and rhino horns. Jackie Chan, Hong Kong’s best known film star, has been featured in an ad to stop rhino poaching by highlighting how the money is used by terrorist and criminal organizations.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) sponsors a Conference of the Parties (CoP), a global gathering held every 3 years to discuss a wide range of issues that have a significant impact on endangered animals and plants. They will be meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 24th to October 5th, 2016. Stay tuned for information from the Conference.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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