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Summary

Summary

Using innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks and government agencies, Big Life Foundation seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa.

Mission

Mission

Using innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks and government agencies, Big Life Foundation seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wild lands and wildlife, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa.

History

History

Big Life Foundation was founded by photographer Nick Brandt & conservationist Richard Bonham in September 2010. In 2010 Nick returned to Amboseli National Park having spent time there photographing the elephants over the last eight years whilst becoming intimately familiar with their habits and individual personalities. However on this occasion, the elephants’ behaviour seemed changed; half a mile away and on the other side of the fence, these very elephants ran from Nick and the team in a terrified panic. It soon became apparent that this was the result of recent poaching activities in the area. In the following year many elephants were killed for their ivory and meat with little to nothing being done in an effort by authorities to crack down on it. Since 2008 the price of ivory in China and the far east has dramatically increased from about $200/lb to $2,000/lb. Some experts estimate 35,000 elephants a year are being killed. The question began to develop in this area for each remaining elephant, not as to if they would be killed, but when. Not wanting to become a passionate yet passive individual, Nick teamed up with Richard Bonham, renowned conservationist, to begin Big Life Foundation.

Five months after joining forces, the foundation had constructed and expanded twelve anti-poaching outposts, each staffed by eight rangers; purchased nine anti-poaching patrol vehicles; recruited platoon commanders and a training instructor to oversee eighty-five fully-equipped rangers; purchased a Microlight plane for aerial monitoring in Tanzania; acquired two sets of fully-trained tracker dogs for both sides of the border; and massively expanded our informer network on both sides of the border.

Recent Work

Recent Work

In 2014 poachers shot and killed a female white rhino, also mother of a young rhino called Bahati, who took a bullet in the neck, but not only managed to survive against all odds, he grew up over the next year, each event in this young rhinos life carefully documented, from taking a bullet in the neck to his stumbling attempts at creating social bonds with other rhinos. A year later and a devastating series of events occurred where a camera trap image was downloaded showing this young rhino with a poacher’s snare around his neck. A race against time and poacher’s ensued over the next few days and nights to try and locate the rhino, who had managed to snap the snare amazingly, but had pulled it tight around his neck in the process. On the fourth day the young male was found staggering around, and anesthetised. It transpired that the metal wire had cut too deep, and with septicaemia already setting in, Bahati never awoke from the anaesthetic.

Since this tragedy, recorded on 19th Spetember 2015, the poachers have been tracked by the park’s expert trackers, and with all eyes on them have been closed in upon and eventually arrested. These two seasoned poachers, who are thought to have been responsible for many more deaths before Bahati’s, are now behind bars, with their abundance of spears, poison arrows, snares, and AK-47s confiscated and officially out of circulation. This bitter-sweet victory has brought Big Life Foundation yet more attention and support from the authorities.

To find out more about Big Life Foundation, get in touch with us today.

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