noun \ä-blə-ˈgā-shən\ 1. something that you must do because of a law, rule, promise, etc. 2.something that you must do because it is morally right.
As an organization, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is obligated to our mission - to rescue and protect animals around the world - which we committed to 45 years ago and has broadened to include dozens of other species other than Canadian harp seals.
One of those species is the African elephant, which despite its unheralded intelligence, advanced social structures and keystone status in the landscape in which it roams, is fighting for its very survival in the face of a poaching epidemic and unprecedented habitat destruction.
Perhaps the most famous of these African elephants are the elephant families roaming in and around Amboseli National Park in Kenya, consisting of a precious 1,400 individuals. Despite their fame, these elephants are under imminent threat as critical dispersal areas outside the protected park are being developed in ways that bars their access to necessary food and water.
Without such access, as many as 80 percent of these elephants will die.
For years now, IFAW has been intimately involved with many communities, organizations and initiatives to protect these elephant families, and we understand that it will take many more years before we can say that their future has been secured.
Working with renowned scientist Cynthia Moss's Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP), we have identified and agreed to study the effects of the epic 2009 drought on 10 such elephant families. In this drought, up to 60 adults, including 27 matriarchs, died, leaving many orphaned elephants to figure out how to assume leadership positions in their herds without the guidance of older individuals.
In addition to this study of the families, IFAW has spearheaded a radio-collaring study on bulls and senior mothers in the Amboseli ecosystem for purposes of mapping migratory routes with the ultimate goal of formally establishing elephant corridors. These corridors, which allow dispersal to feeding habitats outside the park, are essential for the elephants during the cyclical droughts of Amboseli.
We support the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and train rangers with skills in wildlife protection and mitigating human-elephant conflict. IFAW has donated anti-poaching vehicles to the Kenya Wildlife Service and supports the gazettement of the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan as the long-term solution for mitigating human-elephant conflict.
(Photo: IFAW-ATE/V. Fishlock)