Without a doubt, the biggest threat to African wildlife today is poaching. Until recently, poaching was in decline, but in the last few years there has been a dramatic turn for the worse. Recently, Uganda’s wildlife authorities made a grim discovery at Entebbe International Airport: Hidden in mismarked crates were more than 700 kilograms or 1,543 pounds of elephant ivory and 2 tons of scales from pangolins, otherwise known as scaly anteaters. All the East African nation have been clamping down on the illegal trade and enacted tougher legislation.

Poaching is not what it used to be and not just in terms of numbers. The poachers aren’t individuals with rusty rifles they are part of powerful syndicates, well equipped with weapons and GPS, and strict orders from above. And “above” tends to mean China, well-known in East Africa as being the largest purchaser of ivory, with some 70 percent of tusks destined for its shores. Numerous Chinese officials have been stopped at many occasions all over East African airports for attempting to smuggle  ivory and no doubt many more have been let go.

What you can do

Putting an end to poaching is like putting an end to drug trafficking it is an enormous, global issue with factors ranging from corruption to misguided beliefs and poverty all contributing to its perpetuation. But there are small ways in which you can still make a difference.

Visit game reserves and national parks, your entry fee will contribute directly to conservation efforts. A lack of income means fewer rangers to patrol the landscapes and less of an incentive to protect the wildlife. If visiting Uganda, which loses more than 1000 elephants a year to poachers, we highly recommend you including Murchison Fall or Kidepo Valley National Park on your itinerary. As these parks are very large with neighbouring communities very poor and you contributing through gate fees will help reward the bordering communities.