The Perfect World Foundation supports Nick Brandt and Big Life Foundation to set up electrified fence, 120 kilometers of it, that stretches across community land around the Kilimanjaro foothills.
In the 2 million acre ecosystem that Big Life helps protect, they currently have poaching almost completely under control, in the region losing ‘just’ three confirmed elephants to poaching a year in the last two years, and none so far this year.
But….there is a fast-growing problem that is vastly more complex…….
Look at the map below, at the vast area of unspoiled green. This is a part of the Amboseli ecosystem that Big Life helps protect, as it looked decades ago. All wilderness. You can see Amboseli National Park at top left.
Now in a fairly short space of time, this happened:
The grey areas is farmland, spreading into wildlife habitat, fed by diminishing glacial runoff from Kilimanjaro. Now guess what happens —
All those thousands of red crosses are where elephants have raided farmers’ crops.
Imagine that you are a poor African farmer who earns just a couple of thousand dollars a year from your crops, and one night you discover a big bull elephant trampling through your crops, destroying your very livelihood in just one night. You’d be very tempted to throw that spear that protects your ability to feed you and your family.
And so, inevitably, this…..
…is the result.
And it’s happening more and more often. Just this year alone, they have so far lost at least six elephants to human/elephant conflict. Last year, they lost eight.
That doesn’t even factor in the increasing number of elephants speared as a result of conflict, but (so far) have survived thanks to the vets funded by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and KWS. These include some of Amboseli’s most important and even famous breeding males, like Tim. (In the photo below, Craig Millar, head of Security for Big Life, and others help get a male called Jagged Ear into position for treatment for a spear wound).
This is all why Big Life now has three patrol vehicles out every night, patrolling the land where farmland meets wildlife habitat.
This is why hundreds of thunder flashes (harmless noisy pyrotechnics) are handed out every month to farmers to help them protect their crops. In the last three years, Big Life rangers responded to over 2100 incidents. It’s working – crop raiding is down, but not by enough. The spread of population is a ticking time-bomb of problems.
Even on a continent the size of Africa, there isn’t enough room any more for both humans and animals, as every day, farmland and development encroaches further upon the animals’ habitat.
However, there is something that would fundamentally transform the ecosystem.
But it’s much less ‘sexy’ than the good guys in green catching the bad guys who kill for profit and rob the communities of a future.
See the blue line? That is a line of protection for the ecosystem in the form of a planned electrified fence, 120 kilometers of it, that stretches across community land around the Kilimanjaro foothills.
That fence would protect farmers’ crops from being raided by the animals, and simultaneously help prevent the farmland from further encroaching upon wildlife habitat.
See those green arrows? Those are the wildlife migration corridors, where the elephants and other animals are being squeezed through ever-narrowing gaps.
The narrow gap to the east between the farmland is the truly critical Kimana corridor. There, like plaque clogging more and more of an artery, less than one kilometer of land remains for the wildlife to migrate between the farms. If that last few hundred meters closes up, there would be huge negative consequences for the elephants and other wildlife in the ecosystem.
Two years ago, seeing this coming (but not quite as fast as we imagined), Big Life commissioned a study from Space for Giants, to analyze the best course, in all senses. Meanwhile, countless meetings have been held with the local communities and authorities.
The result? Everyone is on board, willing to contribute monthly maintenance costs, and raring to go.
The solid blue line on the map is the first 40 kilometers, the most urgently needed.
The fence of choice, made of multiple electrified wires and designed to keep out elephants, works out at about $10,000 a km. That’s $400,000.
We are taking a risk asking you for this. The money for this critical project is NOT included in our annual budget that covers our general operations.
But with every passing day, this problem becomes more serious and complicated. It’s not just the growing number of elephants being killed, it’s the farmland spreading, the land ownership fragmenting.
MATCHING DONATION UP TO $200,000
One extraordinarily generous Big Life donor has committed to match every donation made up to $200,000. To make our target, we need to raise the other $200,000 from all of you.
So today, you could all set in motion that life-giving fence. When built, if you come to visit Amboseli, you won’t see the fence unless you go looking for it. But you WILL see the elephants and other animals, gloriously alive as a result of it.
All we need now is the funding. All we need now is YOU to help make this happen.
Please help Big Life create this line of protection, this transformational literal life- saver, that will enable this unique and extraordinary ecosystem to survive and thrive.