Estimates suggest that 17000 elephants were killed by poachers in the last year. 11000 of these in Tanzania it is rumored. This slaughter cannot go on – if it does, we are only a few years away from elephant free parks.
Manyara Ranch is a relatively small area of 45000 acres (35000 acres of conservancy) but an important one for elephants that come to feed and stay on the ranch. Over the years, we have seen elephants killed by poachers leaving poisoned water melons in their path, have witnessed the gentle giants gunned down close to our camp and elsewhere on the ranch. We have also come across vultures feeding on carcasses of elephants killed silently in the dark – in all some 3o animals in 2 years. The tragedy is that these animals, while relatively safe inside the parks, are targeted by poachers all over the country – Manyara Ranch one of the safest areas outside of a park that an elephant can be. What chance do they have in the rest of the country where there is no patrolling?
The tourism industry has spent years asking the Government for something to be done – with little effect. Finally, there is a glimmer of hope and it seems that steps are being taken to establish some kind of control over this indiscriminate killing and the illegal trade in ivory. Our hopes are high. On Manyara Ranch, poachers better beware. They face newly trained and motivated rangers (armed). They can be tracked by sniffer dogs and followed by air. Properly equipped night patrols are in place as is a network of informers. We are itching to catch the culprits. No elephant poachers in the past 6 months! I hope we can extend this to eternity, but I fear that won’t be the case.
Any help is welcomed. Please contact African Wildlife Foundation and mention Manyara Ranch if you wish to contribute in any way. Alternatively, drop us a line and we will put the wheels in motion.