Elephants - What we can do to help

Wildlife programmes and organisations are constantly airing pleas for assistance in their attempts to rescue, treat and maintain sick or abused animals, including elephants. Monetary donations are, perhaps, the most common request as these may be assigned to various causes, depending on the immediate need of the organisation. However, in order to rally added support, many institutions have come up with more innovative initiatives that allow the public to donate more than just money. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) www.awf.org) demonstrates much of this ingenuity, but such efforts are widespread.

Most frequently, support in terms of monetary donations of property / assets, gifts of stock and securities, or even a will that entitles them to some of your property when you die have been granted. Alternatively, some organisations have created a membership scheme, whereby a monthly or annual fee is charged. As a member, you are entitled to certain benefits. These may be monthly newsletters, vouchers, special offers, etc.

Contributing time and expertise may also be a worthy option to consider for those within industries that are equipped to assist. For example, the owner of a security company could donate a security guard at each gate for 1 year. In a similar vein, consultants may also choose to donate their services to those in and around the area of the park in order to educate them about the nature and benefits of the organisation and the role they are able to fulfill within it.

The Adopt an African Animal type of projects have been most successful, particularly with foreigners seeking to make a donation. These programmes usually require a monthly / annual / lifetime fee, which will be used towards the upkeep and care of that elephant (or animal of your choice). As the adoptive parent, you will often receive a personalised certificate, a photograph of your elephant, subscription to the newsletter (if applicable) and visitation rights. Some sanctuaries will include added extras, such as bumper stickers, badges, clothing, and so on.

In Africa, there is an increasing plight regarding the shortage of land. Investors are also encouraged to participate in the Adopt an Acre of Africa programme. These acres are generally from a game-rich area and are home to thousands of animals. By protecting them, you enable the natural habitat of these animals to be maintained for that much longer, and allowing the opportunity for the expansion of the area in the future. This also enables the surrounding communities to create sustainable areas in which they can live and work for the good of the animals. These initiatives also come with rewards, other than those of gratification, including a certificate, a photo of a section of your acre and perhaps a small gift.

Another thoughtful way to extend help to needy elephants is to donate money, time or resources to them in the name of another person either as a gift to that person, or in remembrance of a dear loved one. This not only assists with the maintaining of our precious wildlife, but is also a fantastic way to preserve the memory of someone special, many years after they have passed on.

For more ideas or for details on how to contribute to the care and sanctuary of elephants, as well as their wild peers, click on www.awf.org.