Wildlife hero

Ofir Drori is an exceptional and brave wildlife-crime activist, fighting against corruption in his quest to save wildlife – The Born Free Foundation supports his work

OfirSince 2004 Ofir Drori has pioneered a new approach in central Africa, tackling head-on one of the most critical regional conservation issues: the effective enforcement of wildlife law and fighting corruption. His work is considered one of Africa’s most important developments in wild animal protection in the last decade. The Born Free foundation is proud to support his work.

When he rescued a baby chimpanzee from a group of poachers in Cameroon, Ofir knew the solution to the problems of bushmeat hunting, trafficking exotic pets and the illegal wildlife trade in general was not to focus on the hunters.

“When you arrest a poacher you only slap a hand reaching into the forest,” he explains. To get to the body behind that arm, Ofir set about bringing to justice the commercial traffickers controlling the trade in meat from wild animals (especially apes), ivory, big cat skins, live parrots and other high value illegal wildlife products.

From his time as a photo-journalist travelling through Africa Ofir understood that poor rural people would continue to hunt wildlife so long as there were rich, untouchable dealers prepared to pay for what they caught. Poachers are only the symptom: the underlying cause is the trade – and Ofir was one of the first conservationists in Africa to address this fundamental threat.

LAGA
Founding the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) in Cameroon in 2004, Ofir established a four-stage model to target commercial traders: investigations to identify them, operations by wildlife officials and police to arrest the perpetrators, legal action to combat bribery attempts and ensure the best chance of conviction, and media follow-up to educate the public and deter other dealers. Since then LAGA has conducted thousands of investigations and hundreds of prominent traffickers have been jailed. This is despite corrupt attempts to divert the cause of justice.

Ofir is a major international presence, regularly attending CITES meetings as a member of the Cameroonian national delegation, presenting to the Interpol Environment Working Group, and conducting training at the International Law Enforcement Academy. Ofir and his team are expanding their work across Africa with EAGLE (Eco Activists for Governance and Law Enforcement), a network coordinated by Ofir that expands LAGA’s mission to Togo, Guinea, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Senegal. More wildlife criminals are being brought to task, more corruption is being rooted out and more wild animals are better protected from the ravages of uncontrolled trade.

Important partnership
Born Free was the first international NGO to recognise and support Ofir’s work ten years ago, and has wholeheartedly supported him ever since.

“Born Free is our most loyal donor,” says Ofir, “but, more than that, your dedicated team keeps advising us and guiding us on crucial decisions.”

The road has been far from easy for Ofir. Faced not just with corruption but with open threats and fabricated charges laid against him, it has taken exceptional courage and determination to bring about these achievements. The result has been a unique, progressive and inspirational approach to conserving the imperilled wildlife of forest Africa.

“Born Free is our most loyal donor,” says Ofir, “but, more than that, your dedicated team keeps advising us and guiding us on crucial decisions.”

Please help KQ and the Born Free Foundation to safeguard Africa’s wildlife, by placing any loose or unwanted change in the envelopes provided and handing to a member of the cabin crew. The money received will make a huge difference and will help us in our fight to ensure a future for Africa’s iconic wildlife. Thank you!