First the good news: the desert peoples of the Sahel/Sahara fringe in northern Mali are absolutely committed to saving their elephants. “If elephants disappear it means the land is no longer good for us either,” one villager told zoologist Susan Canney in the early days of her conservation project in 2007. A subsequent survey revealed that 78% of people in the 42,000km2 project area share his views.

“They know their survival depends on the quality of their environment,” says Canney, “and for them elephants are like very large canaries in the mine – so long as they are flourishing, the land ...


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