Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big Life Foundation Update

For those of you who aren't familiar with artist Nick Brandt's Big Life Foundation, please take a moment and read his latest update to find out how you can help stop the gangs of African poachers in the Amboseli.


Big Life Rangers & Newly Acquired Vehicles, December 2010

For twenty years, one poacher and his gang in Tanzania have been systematically poaching many of the Amboseli region's elephants. The authorities have never been able to catch him. But thanks to Big Life & KWS, his poaching days are now over:

Seven weeks ago, you received my last newsletter. I reported a continued escalation in poaching, another eight elephants killed in the Amboseli area alone in just 16 days. This included the old bull called Magna, whose broken tusks were so small, it showed that no elephant was safe from the poachers' bullets and poison.

Based on a tip-off from one of Big Life's informers, Kenya Wildlife Service successfully intercepted the poaching gang responsible for the killing of Magna and many other elephants in the Amboseli ecosystem and Tanzania over the last twenty years. A firefight had ensued, during which two of the poachers were killed, but the leader of the poaching gang escaped with wounds over the border back into Tanzania.

The Kenyan authorities were not able to communicate as quickly as necessary with the authorities in Tanzania. At this point, Big Life's strategy - of coordinated teamwork between our teams in Kenya and Tanzania - came into play. The Big Life team in Tanzania WAS able to respond, and immediately.

Critical information from one of Big Life's informers in Kenya was passed on to the team in Tanzania from Honeyguide Foundation, our partner there. They were able to track down the gang leader, and with the help our network of informers there, followed him for a number of days. At the appropriate, safe moment, the Big Life/Honeyguide team brought in the Tanzanian police, who made the arrest. The gang leader now awaits extradition to Kenya, where he should receive a long prison sentence.

This poacher and his gang have been organizing and killing elephants for TWENTY YEARS, including what must be many of the elephants photographed in my books. But the authorities were never able to pin anything on him. Within three months of being established, Big Life has succeeded in breaking up the worst of the three main poaching gangs operating along the Amboseli region Kenya/Tanzania border.

This great success could not have been possible without the generosity of our donors who helped us purchase critical vehicles and equipment, hire anti-poaching teams, and develop our network of informers and associates.

Things are also going well with the capture of other poachers: In both Kenya and Tanzania in recent separate incidents, several poachers with newly-killed giraffe meat were arrested by Big Life rangers on night patrols.
As a result of Big Life's efforts, there have been ZERO reports of any elephants being killed on either the Kenyan or Tanzanian sides of the border in the last six weeks. We have quickly sent out a strong, effective message to poachers that killing wildlife now carries a much greater risk of being arrested.

Of course, Big Life has invested a large amount of money establishing its teams in order to make a difference fast. We have achieved that goal, and we know our work is having an impact. However,there are still over two million acres to protect in the Amboseli ecosystem, and we have a long way to go financially to achieve SUSTAINABLE operations in both countries across this area.

To achieve our mission, Big Life must build and man a significant number of additional anti-poaching camps, with accompanying patrol vehicles and equipment. Our goal is a total of 160 rangers and scouts in 18 camps across the ecosystem. We are about halfway to that goal, and can get there with your help.

We're not just attempting to protect the elephants, but also the diminishing populations of lions, giraffes, zebra and other plains animals also being hunted by the poachers. We may have brought down the most active of the three gangs operating along the Kenya-Tanzanian border of Amboseli, but there are the other two known gangs there, and all the other poachers operating in the other areas of this vast region. While the demand for ivory and all the other animal parts remain, there will be many who cannot resist the fast, easy profits to be made out of killing these irreplaceable creatures. With your help, we will be there to stop them, and allow the animals to flourish in peace once again.

Please donate generously to help continue our success:

Thanks again for your support.

Nick Brandt

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