Friday, April 3, 2015

Searching for a Missing Tailwheel in a Herd of Elephants

Wednesday night Bob and I visited the National Air & Space Museum for a GE Aviation Lecture: Searching for a Missing Tailwheel in a Herd of Elephants - Bush Flying with the Kenya Wildlife Service. The guest speakers were world renowned aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff and Dr. Bill Clark from the Kenya Wildlife service who is also a pilot. While the title may sound like an exciting event telling the tales and trials of the life of an African bush pilot, it was actually quite a serious topic. Patty visits the KWS each year to train pilots in their airwing. Their very important job is to protect Kenya's wildlife from poaching. 

Photo from the Sheldrick Trust Orphan's Project
In 2011 the Western black rhino was official recorded as extinct. The main cause? Poaching. The demand of ivory in Asia has caused Asian and African elephant numbers to decline. Each year it is estimated that 10% of the elephant population is lost to poaching and only 300,000 are alive today. With the help of the KWS Airwing, Kenya is now seeing significantly better statistics, however the Earth's creatures are not out of the darkness yet. In fact, darkness has a lot to do with it. A large number of poachers have been deterred by KWS aircraft flying low and slow over herds during the day that now almost all poaching is done at night when the aircraft don't fly.

Prior to the lecture, we watched the documentary Over Africa: Low and Slow with the Kenya Wildlife Service which provided another look into the life of the pilots and the work that they do at KWS.

So you are probably sitting there as I was wondering, what can we do? Elephants are my favorite animal and for awhile I have been following the work of a Kenyan elephant rescue. To read more about their efforts and to "adopt" an elephant, visit: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/. For more information on protecting these large creatures you can visit: https://www.96elephants.org/ or for the ever-threatened rhino: http://www.savetherhino.org/. KWS also has worked closely with The Lindbergh Foundation and you can also donate directly to KWS here.


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