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Help Us Preserve Endangered Elephants and Rhinos – One Tweet At A Time

At SuccessConnect Las Vegas this year, SuccessFactors and SAP are hosting an interactive fundraiser to help save threatened elephants and rhinos in Africa from illegal poaching. We are teaming together with ERP – Elephants, Rhinos, and People, which is part of groupelephant.com, and consists of for-profit, nonprofit, and impact investment organizations dedicated to the preservation of elephants and rhinos and the alleviation of poverty among African communities.  You can learn more about ERP and groupelephant.com here.  Donations will go towards sponsoring and relocating animals to safe game reserves – within and beyond Africa – as well as investing in local regions by building new and powerful economic engines based on ecotourism and agriculture. All you have to do is tweet with both #sconnect15 and #ERP.  For each tweet that contains both hashtags between now and August 14th, SAP will donate $1 to ERP. 

So, what’s the motivation?

A century ago, there were 10 million elephants in the wild in Africa.  By 2013, that number had fallen to 470,000.  With the current price for one pair of average mail elephant tusks approaching $50,000 (USD), enormous pressure will continue to fall on the remaining population.  The situation with rhinos is even more grim.  With rhino horns currently running at $90,000 per kilo, an average 4 kilogram horn is worth $360,000, rivaling the price of gold – and cocaine. 

Predictably, this has led to a huge decline in the rhino population as well.  At the start of the 20th century, there were 500,000 rhinos in Africa.  Today there are less than 20,000 White Rhinos and 5,000 Black Rhinos remaining in the wild – an unsustainable decline that will lead to extinction if left unchecked. 

Elephant and rhino poaching are not new.  Elephant ivory has been in demand for centuries, although through a combination of factors, this demand has soared over the past decade.  The surge in rhino horn demand started about 8 years ago, largely attributed to announcements regarding its use as a medical treatment in some Asian countries. 

International trade in both elephant ivory and rhino horn is illegal and yet, despite the ban, the illicit trade is approaching, by some accounts, nearly 20 billion dollars a year, double what it was just a few years ago.  The amount of profit attainable is too alluring and the prevalent corruption is too easy to bypass.  Poverty plays a key factor given the lack of economic viability and sustainability in the affected regions, enticing individuals into poaching for economic survival.  And now a new wave of suppliers has recently entered, including Africa-based terrorist organizations, such as Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, and the Lord's Resistance Army as well as Asian crime syndicates, all looking to capitalize on this high-value venture.  Listen to the America Abroad Radio and their airing of Poaching and Terrorism: The Race to Protect Wildlife and National Security for some of these details (and many more). 

Saving the remaining elephants and rhinos will require a multi-faceted approach, one that combines governmental and non-governmental approaches, together with a focus on both supply and demand.  On the demand side, appealing to potential consumers by highlighting the plight of the animals and the myths associated with the products is crucial. Campaigns to educate and drive awareness that feature global celebrities – like NBA star Yao Ming’s efforts in his native China – can reduce the demand for these products.  And efforts to impact the supply side are equally important and this is where ERP is focusing their initiatives.  Direct sponsorship and relocation of the animals to safe game reserves – within and beyond Africa – are an important component and underway.  For example, under consideration is a proposal to relocate a small population of orphaned rhinos to Texas.  But perhaps most important is to address the economic viability of the regions so as to remove the economic allure of poaching.  Investing in local regions, building new and powerful economic engines based on ecotourism, and creating enterprises that leverage live animals in the wild instead of animal parts, animal trafficking, and the potentially legal but brutal capture and trade in wild animals, are all crucial to ensuring the long-term survival of the magnificent animals in the wild. 

ERP is a great example of an organization taking that multi-faceted approach and they need our help. So between now and August 14, tweet with both #sconnect15 and #ERP and help impact SAP’s total donation.  And more importantly, help spread awareness of this tragic issue.  We are all crucial to ensuring the long-term survival of these amazing animals.  Start tweeting today, spread the word, and help sustain our incredible world!

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