Supporting International Conservation
The Nature Conservancy works on six continents and in 72 countries. Conservation at the international level is complicated, particularly in developing nations. As communities develop, it's important they do so in ways that protect the plants and animals that live with them. The issues facing people and wildlife are inseparable.
Consider the elephant. In 1979, there were 1.3 million African elephants. Today, there are just 430,000. More than 20,000 are poached every year—that's one elephant every 15 minutes. They are hunted for their tusks. 85% of that ivory is sold in China to its growing middle class. Their protection is important for elephants, for the other plants and animals in their landscapes, and for people. They are incredibly important to African tourism, and tourism is crucial to a strong African economy.
The Nature Conservancy is playing a big role in protecting elephants. In countries throughout Africa, we are working with local communities to conserve wildlife as a critical community resource. Campaign Chairs Betsy Blackwell and John Watson visited Kenya last summer and saw firsthand how these conservation efforts are working. "The Conservancy's collaboration with communities is critical to the survival of some of the most majestic creatures on our planet. That's the only way those kinds of habitats are going to survive. The Conservancy has a lot to add to the preservation and protection of environments outside of the U.S.," says Watson.
The Conservancy is also working in China to reduce the demand for ivory. We know this campaign can be successful. Just a few years ago, the Conservancy started a campaign to highlight the effect that shark fin soup was having on world shark populations. As a result, China banned shark fin soup at government banquets and demand for shark fin dropped overnight.
Today, we truly are one world. Our global community is connected in so many ways. This means that supporting conservation (yes, even in places few North Carolinians may get the chance to see) is essential to the world's wellbeing.