It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we're losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory--legal or not--is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.
What the Experts Say
The African Elephant Action Plan must be implemented in our countries as soon as possible. We are hopeful that the global community will understand how serious and urgent this crisis is, and donate to the African Elephant Fund, the funding mechanism for the Action Plan. With such support we can ensure that we don’t lose elephants from across much of their range.
As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range - not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units.
Protecting elephants is an important part of fighting climate change. Why? Because every day across Africa and Asia, elephants disperse billions of seeds, some of which will grow into the forests of tomorrow, sequestering and storing carbon, generating rainfall and stabilising our climate. Save the elephants to save the forests to save the world!
Elephants are a natural wonder of the world. We are proud and honoured to have these remarkable animals in our countries, but they are disappearing fast from many places and action is needed now.
In 1970 my country was home to 70,000 elephants. Today as a result of poaching, and primarily significant transboundary poaching, the wildlife law enforcement officers are fighting to protect less than 200 individual survivors. We are really in a situation of crisis and I appeal to the international community to support the range States and protect this charismatic animal.
As an attorney and author who has been deeply involved in issues pertaining to elephant welfare for 10 years, I am categorically opposed to resumption of ivory trade because all evidence points to such trade fueling the human appetite for ivory and the consequent, indiscriminate slaughter of these Appendix I protected animals.
Elephants need a creative mix of international response attacking the ivory trade and local, on-the-ground reduction of the corrupt mafias which siphon off Africa's biological riches. There are alternatives out there, but the greed of few comes at the expense of many, including both local people and biodiversity.
Seized ivory stocks around Africa are recycled back into illegal trade due to corruption. Ivory stocks should be burnt together with the hopes of traffickers for any "legal" way to allow them to slaughter our elephants.
Our daily battles are to get traffickers behind bars, but the war for the fate of elephants is far away from the field and our sweat, it is a war of values vs greed, where more elephants can be killed by a vote than by any gun.
It isn’t only our elephants that are being killed. Our dedicated rangers in the field are losing their lives while trying to protect elephants from organised, well-armed and ruthless criminal gangs. The death of these unsung heroes must not be in vain.
The extinction of the African elephant is under way. The question we are asking the decision-makers in Europe is: ‘Do they want to see this happen?'
A single word can send out the wrong signal for those in the illegal trade, that they can start killing as quickly as possible.
Poaching is reducing continent-wide elephant populations by more than 8% annually, although some countries are being hit much harder than others. This level of off-take is unsustainable and will have serious ecological consequences given the keystone role elephants serve in African ecosystems.
Elephants are living treasures. Nature's gardeners. Nature's great teachers. Tragically some people don't give a damn. They prefer the dead treasure to the living one. The ivory. We must challenge this so-called 'trade' with all our might and shame on those who would condone it.