Mali’s elephant population is at a perilous low. Poaching, which has driven elephant populations to historic lows around the world, is exacerbated by ethnic strife and fights over natural resources.
The Mali Elephant Project seeks to address all of the tangled issues that make poaching in Mali so bad.
First, it offers sustainable economic opportunities to people in the region. Youth are trained to be “eco-guardians” and women are encouraged to collect non-timber natural resources, giving people greater economic independence.
Plus, all programs involve people from different ethnic groups in order to promote tolerance and community cohesion.
Since forming in 2003, the group has “created rules for local use of natural resources, set aside forests for elephant use, formed pasture reserves, and designated seasonal water sources to be shared by people, livestock, and elephants.”