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lewawildlife40 karma

Great question! If you don’t live in a country with elephants or rhinos but want to help here are a few things you can do:

Support organizations fighting poaching and the ivory and rhino horn trade.

Contact elected officials to make sure your government votes at CITES for an international ban on ivory and rhino horn.

Urge your members of Congress to support programs like the USAID Biodiversity Program, the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, combating wildlife trafficking programs at USAID and the U.S. State Department, and the Global Environment Facility.

Contact your embassy in high ivory demand countries to take a stand against the ivory trade.

Don’t buy ivory and rhino horn.

Contact companies that are transporting wildlife goods (such as "trophies") and tell them to stop.

Additionally, you can also practice conservation where you are, as we are all connected across the planet, and the loss of biodiversity is happening everywhere. I just saw that sad story about the whale that died with 40kgs of plastic and waste in its stomach. I think we must all strive to find sustainable ways to live - minimise and preferably eliminate plastic use and straws, support ethical businesses, support local organisations that promote environmental protection, practise a minimalist lifestyle etc.

lewawildlife24 karma

We have teams that patrol wildlife areas, and they are quick to alert us in the case that an animal is sick or injured. Additionally, the general public, those who live alongside wildlife or neighbouring wildlife areas are also our eyes and ears on the ground. Conservation organisations in northern Kenya are also connected via various communications platforms such as the Domain Awareness System (DAS) and we get alerts whenever an animal is injured. We mobilise resources as quickly as possible and ensure we attend to the animal as soon as possible.

Our anti-poaching team will sometimes encounter poachers who are part of large cartels. There are legal ways of dealing with poachers - they are arrested by the Kenya police and taken into custody, then later, court. Luckily, our wildlife laws in Kenya are very strict and if one is caught with ivory or rhino horn, they are heavily fined and jailed for at least 20 years.

lewawildlife21 karma

I like the black rhino - they are very feisty and have evolved for millions of years, which makes their anatomy very interesting to me as a vet. They are often unpredictable but incredibly resilient. I have translocated close to 100 black rhinos to new sanctuaries to create breeding populations, and most have done really well.

Giraffes, though elegant, are tremendously difficult to immobilise. They have long legs which can kick you to death, and a long neck which is difficult to manage when they are darted. It's very challenging to treat a giraffe, but we always do our best.

Treating an elephant is also hugely challenging. Being the largest land mammal, weighing about 6-7 tonnes, when immobilised their abdominal organs can exert pressure on their lungs, making them to lack oxygen. We therefore have to be careful in how we position them, and always ensure that their trunk is always 'open' during any operation, using a small tube. Elephants tend to also be very family orientated, and if you're treating a calf, expect a battle from the mother and aunties!

lewawildlife21 karma

Yes I have immobilised hippos before, and just like most animals, they do get agitated and angry at human interventions :) But we always do what is welfare-friendly and treat the animal with the respect it deserves.

I remember receiving a call a few years ago on a Sunday morning that a hippo had walked into the compound of the American embassy in Nairobi, and we had to go and get it. It was complex trying to move it as hippos are heavy and strong animals, and they have very sharp canine teeth. They're tough in every way. Luckily, we managed to move it to a big dam within the Nairobi National Park.

lewawildlife18 karma

Hunting in Kenya was banned in 1977, so we have no examples to compare with here in our country. I, personally, do not support big game hunting. Culturally, most of us in East Africa don't understand the need to kill an animal if it's not necessary for sustenance. The economics of sport hunting are complex, and some African countries have adopted that model, but not here in Kenya.