The estimated number of elephants killed by poaching worldwide is one every twenty six minutes, more than fifty five every day. The populations of elephants in the wild can not withstand this level of slaughter and as a result are reaching critically endangered levels in many national parks throughout Africa and other parts of the world. It is not just elephants of course that are experiencing huge problems with poaching, rhinos and tigers globally are at critically low numbers in the wild and it seems their fate is currently in the balance or should I say in our hands.
Explorers Against Extinction wanted to motivate people into action and sought out the help of the art community and other nature lovers. The project they conceived was sketch for survival, the concept was simple they asked for sketches or other artwork of wildlife that would take just 26 minutes to complete to highlight the plight of the elephants dying every 26 minutes. The artwork is then incorporated into a touring exhibition, highlighting the plight of these animals and others facing extinction and to raise money to help protect these key species through the auction of the art.
The art community did not disappoint and more than 470 original art pieces poured in from over 30 countries this year alone, emphasising the truly international level of support for the project. The art has exhibited in the UK and the United States to achieve its aims of highlighting the problems of poaching and the real dangers of loosing species to extinction. Next the art will auction ending on the 26th November this year (2018) each piece an original.
The money raised this year will go towards two key projects, Sumatran tigers and elephants in Garamba national park in the NE of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The tiger project in Sumatra is organised and lead by the excellent work of Fauna and Flora International who work tirelessly with local communities who live around the region to prevent poaching of the tigers and other wildlife and to limit the contact between local people and tigers within the parks.
Garamba national park is huge and the decision to introduce an anti-poaching dog unit was made on the success of other similar projects in Africa. The help of dogs as trackers is essential in policing the park as dogs have noses 10,000x more sensitive than humans according to scientists that allow them to easily track at night. The anti poaching dog units are a vital asset in the war against poaching and gives the rangers a huge advantage in protecting the key species within the park. The training and maintaining of dogs and dog units is an ambitious project requiring the funding of both Explores Against Extinction and the EU. Sketch for Survival aims to generate $50,000 towards the dog unit project, the EU will also contribute substantially to the project.
Garamba national park was the last stronghold for the Northern White Rhino, none remain due to poaching. In fact only two female northern white rhinos remain and both are in Kenya, the last northern white rhino male called Sudan died in March 2018. The rhinos have gone from Garamba, but there is great hope for the elephants and also the critically endangered kordofan giraffe, the new dog units will be a vital asset in protecting them.
Two types of dogs are being trained to use within the Garamba national park. These are spaniels which are perfectly adapted for tracking and Belgian Malinois, who have a multi purpose role. We need to remind ourselves because of the lucrative nature of poaching, more than 100 rangers are killed each year protecting wildlife. The use of dogs is a huge advantage to the rangers who are better able to track poachers and bring them to justice.
The art community and nature lovers across the world have spoken out with conviction and with solidarity in aid of sketch for survival. The message is clear no more extinctions are tolerable and poaching must stop. Already with the success of sketch for survival, dogs have been deployed into Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe all of them key rhino breeding areas and all with success according to the local rangers. There are currently only 5000 black rhino left in the wild and so the time has come for the global community to take positive action and reverse this terrible loss. It is essential for species such as the black rhino, that we work together and work with great resolve.
I believe people individually feel inadequate in dealing with complicated, dangerous and international problems. It is only through working together as a community can we solve our problems. Explorers against extinction using the sketch for survival campaign have united people together, passionate people with belief and high hopes for the future. In an age of bombardment of negative news reinforced on social media I think it is difficult to stay positive, stay focused and take positive action. It is therefore a credit to all the people who have created a community of supporters for sketch for survival and the team at Explorers agains Extinction who had the imagination and the dream for creating a better future. Campaigns such as Sketch for Survival I believe are like a huge snowball, once they are moving with the correct support they will grow in size. I wish great success for the campaign and the projects which are being funded with this years auction of artwork.