Saturday’s peaceful demonstration held outside the Chinese Embassy in London was attended by passionate, wonderful people. The noise from the protesters amplified into an overpowering hum, echoing off the large buildings rising high in this concrete jungle. I stood in the chilly air which was swirling with redolent fumes, adding my voice and becoming one with the crowd. We could only be described as noisy teeming humanity: A canvas of brightly coloured ‘Anti Poaching’ placards held up high above our heads. With pride and clutching my bright yellow ‘ placard, I moved in and among the throng of people, chatting, laughing and shouting.
The Chinese Embassy doors and windows remained firmly closed, (could have been because it was Saturday!!) as we policed our side of the road which was pulsating with life and atmosphere. However the very building seemed to bow low from the bombardment of voices putting pressure on the Chinese to stop the demand for ivory. Cars, buses, taxis and motorbikes all added their support by hooting their approval as they roared past. Tourist buses slowed down to a crawl, as cameras clicked and friendly visitors to London waved and shouted their encouragement. One woman, wearing a cap which was shading her mischievous eyes, had a large placard that read ‘Hoot if you love elephants’, and she leaped about like a naughty leprechaun encouraging the traffic to respond, and giving those who did not, a high voltage stare. A comical elephant caught up in his support of ‘Banning ivory’ and ‘Stop the killing’ had the crowd behind him as he proudly strutted, creamy tusks gleaming in the sun, that had miraculously broken free of the morning clouds.
Speakers Dominic Dyer from Care for the Wild, Mary Rice from EIA and WIll Travers from Born Free Foundation gave short and informative talks. The crowd remained silent as they held our attention, and then we all got back to the business in hand. A young man from the Chinese Media took loads of photographs, ensuring us that he would ‘raise the awareness’ by sending all information back to China, with what I like to think will be a strong message on how the survival of our elephants and rhinos has reached ‘CRISIS POINT.’ We were also informed that Governments were now taking a serious look at the ‘Poaching Crisis’, possibly because of the evidence that is linking poaching and terrorism.
Back home, full of good cheer and buzzing with a burning energy, my mind turns to the men and women on the ground. Out of the shadows, thoughts emerge, slinking across my mind: flanking me. From the comfort of my chair in chilly UK, I let my mind wander. All the animals are precious. They are threads in this web of glorious life. They are the jewels of Africa, the heartbeat of Africa, and Elephants, in my opinion, are the essence of Africa. These brave men and women, The Rangers: Custodians of what we all hold dear, ‘the wildlife’, we salute you all. However, we cannot sit back and leave all the work to these people. As humans, we are all custodians of this world we share. Each and everyone of us should take responsibility. The future of our world and its inhabitants lies in our hands. Let’s look at it through the eyes of an elephant. (When you read this poem, think of the rhino, the lion and all other endangered species).
Between 1990 and 2005, rhino poaching losses averaged out at 14 animals a year. Since 2005, demand has increased, and PEOPLE, the situation is now at crisis point. Should the sale of rhino horn and ivory be legalised? Mary Rice from Environmental Investigation Agency gave her views on the subject in October 2013. To date, this year South Africa have lost 72 rhinos.(Possibly higher). Sadly, we are having to try and protect these powerful symbols of nature from ourselves. Elephant poaching stats are : 100 a day: 1 every 15 minutes. HEARTBREAKING. Lets not leave it until it too late.