Our efforts successful; problem out of control.

elephant tusks 3

This blog explores why stopping the poaching of elephants in Africa is so hard.

It does so by looking at some of the anti-poaching organizations, big and small. What is it about them that may be preventing them from doing all they can to fight poaching?

WHAT YOU’LL FIND on other pages are brief notes on some of these groups. The degree of editorializing greatly varies. The list so far:

African Wildlife Foundation Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Big Life Foundation CITES
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Crisis Fund
iworry.org MIKE
Save the Elephants SOS Elephants
Tusk Trust Wildlife Direct
Wildlife Conservation Network World Wildlife Fund

There’s several themes that emerge such as image over substance (iWorry, Wildlife Direct), lack of cooperation between organizations (Sheldrick and Big Life), all-encompassing missions that cripple individual projects (AWF, WWF), money spent poorly (MIKE, CITES), more guns (Big Life), careerism.

To me, the most striking theme is the one that launched me on this research. It involves the envelope in the header photograph above.

It comes from the African Wildlife Foundation, and it contained their March 2015 letter which highlights AWF’s “solid record of success” protecting African elephants. AWF “is the best place for your investment in their future.”

After underscoring their 50 years track record in Africa, AWF reports that, in the last 40 years, the African elephant population has fallen in half.  For once in my life, I’m hoping “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Again and again, you find this mantra coming through from all these organizations:

Our efforts are successful. It’s just that the problem is out of control.

Please comment, argue and correct.

Thank you for visiting.


elephant running the masai mara MY BIAS: A few years ago, I wondered about that lunatic fringe idea of staining elephants’ tusks as a way to stop poaching, and I jotted down some thoughts. What pushed me to explore such an idea was the sense that our current anti-poaching efforts can’t end poaching once and for all.


The header photo is from a March 2015 appeal from AWF. I used to use the December 2014 envelope (below), but it seemed off point to show a tuskless elephant happily noshing for the camera for a blog about elephant poaching. AWF, I guess, felt similarly as regards to anti-poaching begging letters.


The tusks image is cropped and reversed from a photograph by Schuyler Shepherd in the Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania in 2006  CC BY 2.5  with apologies, the original photograph may be seen here.

The photo of the charging elephant is by Brittany H. / CC BY-NC 2.0