Ritman & Associates Supports the AWF
Many of you are aware of my incredible love for animals; particularly for African Wildlife. For my 50th birthday, I decided to fulfill my dream of visiting Africa. The trip was truly monumental.
Our trip began in Rwanda with licenses from the government to travel with seasoned guides to see the amazing Mountain Gorillas. Did you know that humans and gorillas differ by only 1.75% of their total DNA? Gorillas have emotions and feelings and they operate in a family structure just like humans do.
We experienced two young Mountain Gorillas come rolling down a hill in a patch of high bamboo trees where they literally started playing a game of ‘Ring Around The Rosie’ – it was like children playing. It was amazing.
On our second day, I was in the back of the group when a very large female came up the path towards me. Our guides were very concerned that I would be fearful. She stopped right next to me and we just looked at each other, making full eye contact. I simply wept with joy. When she recognized that I was not a threat to her, she casually sauntered off. This was a life changing moment for me! It is inconceivable to me how a human could kill one of these animals.
Our journey continued by meeting up with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) where we toured through three countries. Not only did they educate us on what AWF is doing to help the animals, but for the people of Africa and the continent itself. The top priority of the African people is to protect their family and village. Unfortunately, the wildlife often threatens their way of life. During our trip, we witnessed numerous occasions where humans and wildlife were in conflict with each other.
One way AWF is making an impact is to educate the people on the importance of the wildlife to the ecosphere as well as the continent’s incredible tourism business. They help put people to work in the tourism business; providing a livelihood that is dependent upon protecting the wildlife. It is truly a paradigm shift to place the responsibility of protecting the wildlife into the hands of the African people.
Currently, AWF is working diligently to address a massive poaching crisis. Through three primary areas of focus, they are working to end the poaching of elephants, rhinos, apes, giraffes:
- Stop the poaching of animals
- Stop the trafficking of animal parts
- Stop the demand for animal products
To stop the poaching of the animals, AWF has been instrumental in ensuring the ‘boots on the ground’ have everything needed to protect the wildlife. From proper gear and uniforms to mapping software to track the migration patterns of animals; rangers are being equipped with what they need to deter poachers.
AWF is also working with local law enforcement and government agencies to strengthen legislation for stricter penalties for trafficking violations. Sniffer dogs are also being used at major ports and airports to keep animal products from leaving the area.
To stop the demand for animal products, AWF has partnered with WildAid to share the message that when the buying stops, the killing of animals stops. Commercials leveraging celebrities that resonate with surrounding nations promoting awareness have been highly effective. Click here to watch an AWF awareness video. Similar efforts such as stopping the slaughter of sharks for their fins has dropped by 70% as a result of awareness campaigns.
You can visit the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) website to learn more about their programs to help both the people and wildlife of Africa.
Stay tuned to learn what RITMAN is doing in 2017 to support the AWF.