The Sparkling Elephant Project
Comparable to the monumental statue of the Amarula elephant at the airport of Johannesburg, South Africa, the MomellaFoundation in cooperation with Rettet Die Elefanten Afrikas e.V. set up a life-size elephant made of iron nearby the village of Sinya. We want to establish a transcontinental cooperation between pupils from abroad and 750 children from Sinya in order to create awareness of the dramatic decline of the elephant population throughout Africa in general and especially in Sinya. During the course of one year the children will breathe life into the statue by threading pearls on wire shaping the body of the elephant on the iron-made skeleton. Doing this all by themselves and over the course of one year, the children will develop a deep personal affection towards their own piece of art and the related wildlife conservation issues. This will be supported and underlined by an information board written in Swahili and English. The Sinya Primary School is located in Sinya Village Tingatinga, Longido. It is a boarding school and it was founded in 1977. The headmaster is Felix Mungai. Among the 750 pupils there are 245 girls and 505 boys who come from all over the country. Most of the families who send their children to the Sinya Primary School are socially deprived and live under very poor conditions unable to give their children a proper home. The school itself, too small to host such a huge quantity of children, lacks playgrounds and is situated in a barren environment. The children mostly have to look after themselves. Just 9 teachers are employed at the Sinya Primary School. 9 classrooms are provided. The MomellaFoundation together with its partners aims to set the children a substantial and useful task which sensitises the students to the highly endangered elephant population in the Sinya-Region. The Maasai-Steppe/Sinya-Region in the North of Tanzania is an old migration corridor south of the Amboseli National Park in Kenya crossing over the border into Tanzania. Particularly older elephant bulls, with long tusks showing their age, come to this area in order to retire. The National Parks in Kenya are well protected against poaching by laws, which are enforced through well-educated and -equipped rangers since the 1980's. The Tanzanian part of the Amboseli-Ecosystem is not listed as a National Park as it lacks the long-time experience in protecting its elephants. This is why poaching poses the most critical danger for elephants while passing through this area.
Thousands of wild animals are poached in Africa every year. According to elephant population statistics this means a decrease of exactly 38,000 elephants per year and a decline in population of 8% each year. At a price of 6,500 USD per kilogram, the hunt for ivory is very attractive. (Samuel K. Wasser, Bill Clark, Cathy Laurie: The Ivory Trail, in: Scientific American, July 2009, 68-76) Only for Tanzania this means a decrease of 42% of its elephant population during the last three years.
The tremendous increase in human population has taken a second serious toll on the elephant population. The combination of a growing human population and as a result, the loss of wildlife habitat, has exacerbated wildlife-human conflict, creating yet another threat to the future of the elephants. While migrating through the Sinya-Region each year, 700 elephants are blocked on their traditional routes by legal and illegal farms forcing them to find alternative routes, thus destroying farmland. Sadly, the farm owners take the solution in their own hands, responding with the use of weapons. The Sinya Boarding School is located in exactly this area which is a migration corridor between Amboseli National Park and Kilimanjaro National Park. By implementing the Sparkling Elephant Project we focus on two main issues: We enhance the student's creativity and we educate them, creating awareness for the endangered local wildlife species.
It is very important to involve the young generation amongst local people into conservation efforts concerning the Amboseli-ecosystem as they will be the ones who, if well informed and sensitised, will care for a coexistence of humans and animals in the future.