Protection of Gourma elephants: Americans give support equipment (Mali)


L’Essor  Bamako

Date Published
Translated from French by an automated online translation service, so please excuse the roughness. See link for original. Thank you to Anne Dillon for both volunteering her time to find these French articles and doing the online translating.

To support the government’s efforts in the conservation of nature and the security of forest guards in the Gourma region, the U.S. NGO, Spirit of America, has just submitted material to the anti-poaching brigade. The official ceremony took place yesterday at the Embassy of the United States of America in Mali in the presence of the adviser to the Ministry of Environment, Sanitation, and Sustainable Development, Baikoro Fofana; the first counselor Embassy Andrew Young; the representative of Spirit of America, in charge of field operations for Africa, Chris Van Johnson; and the Wild Foundation representative Nomba Ganame.

The material consists of six digital cameras, six 32-gigabytes of memory cards, as many GPS portable chargers and solar panels, 18 monocular observation, 50 patrol backpacks, 50 water tanks, and 50 lamps front.

The Minister’s representative welcomed the donation with these words: “Modest but full of meaning, which denotes Spirit of America’s commitment to the fight against a global problem, that of poaching the elephant for ivory.” He explained that this support is a true expression of interest that Spirit of America grants the protection of elephants, which are a common universal heritage.

On behalf of the Minister, Baikoro Fofana made a fitting tribute to the embassy for its constant presence and quality work in the country’s development actions. He also expressed his gratitude to Wild Foundation for its successful collaboration with the department. Thanking the Spirit of America for this gift he deems useful for field staff, Baikoro Fofana has engaged the National Directorate of Water and Forests to ensure judicious use of the materials.

The representative of the Wild Foundation said the donation is sufficient to show that international opinion is informed and aware of the plight of the elephants of Mali. He explained that from 2012 to today, the insecurity in the Gourma region has had consequences of fear and  mistrust within and between communities that once lived in harmony. Currently, young people and local social groups promote infiltration of Jihadists groups in the region and prevent forest officers from doing their job. There is concern that this aspect would react negatively on the elephant populations that are victims of poaching because of their ivory, warns Nomba Ganame.

At least a hundred elephants fell due to poachers during and after the occupation of the area by armed groups. Added to the stress, this was followed by abandonment of newborns by females (there were over 12 cases from 2014 to 2015). This phenomenon is still continuing in 2016 where 7 cases were recorded during the first quarter including 5 deaths due to this neglect.

This called for safeguarding actions particularly by Wild Foundation and the National Directorate of Water and Forests. Among the backup actions taken, he cited the establishment of an operational system of fighting against the poaching phenomenon, and the dismantling of ivory trafficking networks and the organization of joint patrols to fight against poaching.

Nomba Ganame thanked Spirit of America and wished that the efforts of reinforcement of capacity by the partners continue because it is only with efforts like this that we will reach a situation in which elephants and humans live in harmony.

The representative of the ambassador praised the hard work of the rangers of the Gourma region. He regretted that this force does not receive enough attention and lacks resources to patrol large areas assigned to them. This gift of Spirit, he said, should help better equip the rangers in their difficult mission. He thanked Spirit for its assistance and hoped that these activities in the area will gain a following.–