Will Mali’s desert elephants become a thing of the past?

In the first two weeks of January 2016, 16 elephants died to international ivory traffickers in Mali. On the outskirts of the elephant range, 50 government rangers have completed rigorous training and are ready to protect Mali’s elephants. The government of Mali needs our support and encouragement in order to activate these rangers so that Mali’s national treasure can be safe from poachers, and we have recruited an Adviser to facilitate this process and ensure the elephant portfolio continues to be pursued as Mali works to restore stability.

Support the Mali Elephant Project

Even as ivory traffickers exploit the chaos from the Islamist insurgency to poach elephants. WILD and its many partners are working feverishly to harness all available resources and deploy them to the elephant range. The word in the Gourma region is that poachers were receiving 3 million CFA Franc per tusk a year ago, and 2 million CFA currently.  Our many supporters know different, however. These include the local communities who have historically lived peacefully with these elephants and work tirelessly to protect them. They understand that their well-being is best served by working together. Supporting the brigade members in fighting against elephant poaching ultimately improves their physical security and cements the social fabric required to generate benefits of collective resource management for all.

Explore the unique relationship between the local communities and
desert elephant population in the Gourma in this short video.

Elephants in Mali could be extinct in just 3 years, as shown in the graph below. The calculation is based on a series of assumptions [1]. It is your help, and the help of supporters like you, that is activating the networks and resources necessary to ensure that all our partners, including Mali’s government, are doing what is necessary to keep these extraordinary animals alive.

Gourma elephant population projections-web

Learn more about the Mali Elephant Project, a joint initiative of the WILD Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada

For on-the-ground updates, follow “Les Eléphants du Gourma-Malien,” a local led initiative documenting the Mali Elephant Project. Click the “See Translation” button to read in English!

[1] Elephant population projections were based on following data:

  • Bouché et al. (Bouche et al. 2009; Bouche et al. 2011) estimated the elephant population of the Gourma at 344-404 based on aerial surveys in 2007.
  • At least 36 elephants died during the drought of 2010 (Canney and Ganame 2012) which brings the population estimate in 2012 down to 308-368. These two figures were used as the lower and upper population estimates at the start of 2012.
  • Actual recorded poaching numbers between January 2012 and January 2016 inclusive were subtracted from the starting population and then subsequent months to give the running population total.
  • The mean (±SD) number of elephants poached between January 2012 and January 2016 (49 months) = 2.47±4.98 elephants/month = 29.63±17.24 elephants/year.
  • Population projections were based on the 2015 average poaching per month: 6.92±6.99 elephants poached / month, ~ 7 elephants per month).
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