Mali Brigade Is Protecting African Elephants

People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.

The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.

Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.

“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”

The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.

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Authorities Bust Wildlife Smugglers Carrying Pangolins

Thanks to influencers like Leonardo DiCaprio, endangered animals are receiving the rehabilitation they deserve. Still, many involved in black markets will find ways to exploit rare species. Activists are praising Indonesian authorities for rescuing 101 pangolins smuggled on a fishing boat.

“After border protection by the Indonesian customs increased and more than 10 arrests with tons of frozen pangolins happened in the [major] seaports, the traffickers changed their modus,”

The most trafficked animal in the world, pangolins are delicacies in Vietnam and China. Many pay thousands of dollars to pair their scales with other medical treatments. Scientifically, pangolin scales have no curative elements and belong exactly where they are now — on pangolins.

It’s unknown exactly how many pangolins are left in the wild, but scientists have classified the four Asian species as endangered or critically endangered, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction.

Of the 101 rescued critters, 4 bit the dust. National parks are now home to the remainder. Indonesia is a frontrunner in the illegal wildlife trade, exploiting billions of dollars a year. If exploiting a single pangolin earns you five years jail-time and $7,300, poaching may not be the most attractive industry — nor should it ever be.

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