Team Elephant Update

Team Elephant rangers find a poached elephant in Burkina Faso's Park W

Burkina Faso in West Africa is a critically important refuge for elephants. With a population of around 4,000, it stands as the very last remaining elephant stronghold in the entire region. Last year many of you responded generously to an urgent call to help a group of brave rangers known as  ‘L’equipe des elephants’ (Team Elephant). These rangers, located in Park W (named after a W-shaped bend in the river Niger), were ill-equipped and struggling to combat organised criminal gangs determined to kill elephants inside the Park. 

The funds you provided helped ensure that Team Elephant was equipped with the basics – uniforms, boots, GPS units, tents, cameras, first aid kits and other essentials. Thanks to this support, the rangers have now been able to reach parts of the park that before were completely inaccessible. They have arrested poachers, destroyed poachers' camps and seized illegal items such as ivory, weapons and bushmeat. These successes are extremely encouraging and are a testament to the determination and dedication of Team Elephant to protect the magnificent residents of Park W.

However, despite the best efforts of the rangers, the poaching sadly continues, with five elephants brutally killed in the last three months. This is a story being replicated across Africa - it has been estimated that as many as 50,000 African elephants may have been poached last year alone. Ever-increasing demand for ivory in the Far East and huge black market prices for ivory mean that criminals are targeting vulnerable elephants and more support is urgently required if we are to adequately address the threats. For Park W, Team Elephant need better training and a fully-functioning vehicle! Unless we provide help for rangers in remote, often forgotten, places such as Park W, we can expect to wave goodbye to elephants from large parts of their former range. 

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