Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to fund Pan African Elephant Survey

One of the co-founders of the Microsoft company, Mr Paul Allen, has shown his sincere concern for the destiny and fate of Africa’s amazing elephants by adding his financial contribution to their protection. Paul Allen mentioned on 4 December 2013, that his family trust will fund an Africa-wide survey to establish how many elephants remain. This decision follows an agreement by the Clinton Foundation to provide millions of dollars for anti-poaching programmes in Africa and the decision by President Obama to have the US stockpile of illegal ivory crushed so it cannot be reused.

These actions reflect world-wide concern over the future of Africa’s magnificent elephants, which are presently being poached at the rate of about one every 15 minutes. Estimates of elephant numbers in Africa range from 410 000 to 650 000 and many populations have not been surveyed for many years. The elephant counts are often based on conjecture and assumptions.

The Pan-African Survey will be executed by Elephants Without Borders (EWB), which is based in Botswana, Southern Africa. It will require three fixed-wing planes and two helicopters doing tight transects in 13 elephant-range countries during the dry season in 2014. The aim will be to find where elephant herds are predominantly on the African continent, whether they are increasing or declining and what threats they face. The cost for this execution plan will be around $8-million.

‘I’m honoured that his agreement to support the survey was instantaneous,’ said EWB director Mike Chase. ‘An eco-philanthropist like Paul knows what’s at stake can identify with our vision because he visits Africa twice a year. ‘He’s not a tourist. He talks to conservationists, biologists, villagers, staff and guides and he owns lodges like Abu in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. He and his sister, Jody, quietly fund so much conservation in Africa that isn’t generally known about. Their personal investment in the continent is amazing.’

‘This is the bleakest time for the elephants,’ said Allen in support of the survey. ‘The statistics on the plight of Africa’s elephants is daunting. I’m devoted to supporting new endeavours which provide meaningful science to help reverse this decline and to reduce the variability in elephant population statistics.’

Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft and Billionaire

Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft and Billionaire

Elephants once roamed across 46 African countries, but are now limited to 35. In 20 of those, populations number less than 1 000. Their range area has been reduced to 15 per cent of Africa’s total surface. This decline has been caused by habitat encroachment, increased human population densities, agricultural development, deforestation and infrastructure development as well as poaching. Elephants may soon be extinct in Central and West Africa. Demand for ivory in Asia and its subsequent leap in price has resulted in the highest elephant mortality rate in their 1.5-million-year history.

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