Africa ASAP goals for 2020
On behalf of Africa ASAP may I extend to you and your family our very best wishes for this New Year of 2020. It has been some time since we have been in contact and there is a reason for this lapse in communication. Africa ASAP saw a period of personal loss both here and in Africa in 2017. That year, on August 16 our friend and partner Wayne Lotter was brutally killed by organized criminals in the ivory trade. Losing Wayne affected us deeply and forced us to step back and recalibrate our strategy. It also made our fight against the dark forces that are destroying our vanishing nature personal.
We spent 2019 building a foundation to launch our first airship in 2020, a year that marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Some Africa ASAP Highlights 2019
· In February of 2019 Africa ASAP teamed with FLIR, the global leader in Aerial Imagery Systems and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in a proof-of-concept demonstration.
Flying at 8,000 feet and 4 miles away the FLIR Star Sapphire, the most advanced available day/night camera available could easily find people (differentiating individuals by name) elephants, other wildlife, and campfires. FLIR generously donated their plane, cameras, and time saving us at least 200K. The video can be viewed here.
· During the summer we were invited by Amazon Web Services to apply for a grant open to NGOs who are “using technology to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.” In December we received notice that, out of a crowded field, we are one of four recipients of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant Program.
· In August I was invited to Aspen as a keynote speaker on the opening night at one of the most significant environmental conferences of the year, AREDAY 2018 (American Renewable Energy Day). AREDAY is known as the “Davos of Clean and Renewable Energy.” My talk was about how our airship will protect vanishing nature, from the Serengeti to the Arctic. Our airship will be the first aircraft to use a renewable hydrogen fuel cell. Imagine, an aircraft that runs on runs on sunlight and water, has no moving engine parts, and can carry out missions for weeks at a time!
· Astrid Determan, our 12-year-old spokesperson had a busy year speaking with great passion about Africa ASAP. She spoke at the United Nations Nexus in NYC, The reThinking Animals Summit in NYC, and the Vatican where she addressed 500 world religious leaders and received a special blessing from Pope Francis for her work.
How many wild animals are left?
Though we fill our Christmas cards, nurseries and media screens with elephants, giraffes, bears, reindeer, and lions, in the wild there are very few animals left. Though it is impossible to know for sure the number of wild animals we kill through loss of habitat, poaching, human animal conflict, hunting and trophy hunting, the following comparisons (provided by Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens) can help us understand the proportions of the loss.
Weight of all farm/domestic animals 700 million tons
Weight of all humans: 300 million tons
Weight of all surviving wild animals/mammals from porcupines to elephants, from to penguins to whales: 100 million tons
200,000 wolves compared to 400 million domestic dogs
20,000 lions compared to 500 million domestic cats.
18,000 rhinos compared to 1.5 billion cattle
15,000 bonobos (our closest relative) compared to 7.8 billion humans
The greatest threat that faces endangered species is the widespread destruction of habitat. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Eighty-five percent of the earth’s wetlands and three quarters of its lands have been severely altered or lost making it harder for species to survive.
The second greatest cause is the deliberate hunting, poaching and harvesting of wildlife, and the unintentional killing of non-target species. Illegal wildlife trade, worth about $23 billion per year, is the fourth most lucrative global crime after drugs, human trafficking, and arms. As the numbers of iconic animals dwindle, investors are betting on extinction and buying tiger bone, rhino horn, and ivory as investment assets, just as they would rare art.
These pressures make it critically important that we protect the areas that remain viable. Current methods and efforts are insufficient.
Africa ASAP has a bold solution.
Our Africa ASAP airship is the appropriate technology for monitoring vast tracks of harsh, dangerous, or remote terrain. It can cover an area the size of the UK on a single mission and stay aloft for a week. The mere presence of an airship will act as a powerful deterrent.
Unlike drones, helicopters, and planes our quiet zero emissions solar/fuel cell powered airship floats quietly thousands of feet above, providing a safe, unobtrusive way of observing Africa’s vast parks and sanctuaries. Wildlife will be undisturbed but visible. Utilizing Amazon’s cloud-based applications to distribute continuous, reliable information in the form of data and HD video, we can give rangers advance notice and the precise location of threats to animals and habitats.
Our floating observatory will also open a new window on how we protect elephants and other vanishing wildlife while conducting vital research and transmitting this information in real time. Participating research teams from all over the world will have access to this facility. Our information will also engage a new generation of organized, skilled, professional conservationists—people who are able to mobilize the global community.
The will is there. With your help Africa ASAP can provide the way.
Please check out our new website, sign up to receive updates, and participate in our fundraising campaign. Together we will have something very, very big to celebrate during this 50th anniversary year of Earth Day!