Africa’s elephants, precious and vital to the environment are under continual attack. Each golden sunrise, extravagant and full of new promise reveals tragedies, that have sadly been dealt by human hands. The African bush, bewitchingly beautiful in winter ochre colours or luscious and bursting with life after the first rains has become a raw and violent battlefield for these sentient creatures. Elephants, one of the damned species of Africa have become like toys on the devils playground: destroyed and mutilated. It is time to change. (Please read the poem)
Elephant herds are suffering during these dark times of poaching: devastating their numbers and disrupting their society. Dame Daphne Sheldrick has described the suffering of the orphans that she has been hand-rearing as intense and terrible to witness. For elephants to be orphaned in such vast numbers by mankind’s insatiable greed for ivory points to a sad flaw in human nature. There is nothing a mother will not do for their child, and elephants are no different. Sadly, the largest living land mammals cannot pit their strength against man and his ‘weapons of destruction.’ Elephant cows, riddled with bullets, hearts pounding with fear, while dying an excruciating slow death have been known to try and shield their calves, who tragically have already been slaughtered. These poachers are ruthless: in Chad late last year 89 elephants were slaughtered and 30 of the cows were pregnant.
Every muscle in my body tightens, and my mind screams at me. THIS IS WRONG and it is UNACCEPTABLE. As human beings, can they not see that what they are doing is morally wrong. These magnificent and sentient creatures are more compassionate than these human predators that are wrecking such destruction and havoc. As humans, and supposedly thinking ones, let’s put an end to this horror. In 2012, some 35 000 elephants were cruelly slaughtered to feed the demand for ivory. With China and Thailand’s increasing affluence, as well as an expanding middle class elsewhere in Asia, the demand for ivory and rhino horn is out of control. Over the last decade, many rangers have been lost in their quest to protect the wildlife from this insatiable lust for ‘white gold.’
During the 1970’s and 1980’s poaching was at an all time high. The international community came together, united against the destruction and the harsh reality of what was facing these animals: Extinction. In 1989 an International ban on the ivory trade was approved by CITES. Poaching dropped dramatically, and black market prices for ivory slumped. The clouds of despair hanging low and heavy lifted as elephant numbers started to increase. The southern African states, particularly Zimbabwe and South Africa, wanted the legal and controlled trade to remain in place. Their argument was that Elephants should be paying their way, as the revenue generated from the sale of elephants and elephant products was being fed back into the system: helping to fund both conservation and local communities.
1997: Led by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, inset, four southern African states with substantial elephant populations – Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana – get CITES to agree to a “one-off” sale of 50 tonnes of ivory. Britain goes along with it. Poaching rises.
2007-08: The same four African states get CITES to agree to another “one-off” sale, this time of 100 tonnes. Britain goes along, despite warnings that it will increase poaching. And China is allowed by CITES to become an official ivory buyer, in spite of harbouring the largest amount of illegal ivory. Britain goes along with it, despite warning this too will increase poaching, which soars.
Today, 10th February 2014, bigger, darker and more threatening storm clouds cast ominous shadows over the safety of our elephants. Deep currents of greed blow on the wind, as the wave upon wave of attacks on these animals are constant, not only threatening the survival of this species, but also a threat to world security. Big money has attracted organized crime syndicates: an ugly web of deceit, corruption and greed. Trading in ivory or ‘blood ivory’ has become a multi billion dollar industry and we are fighting against some big guns. The demand for ivory is killing the elephants, and these slaughters are funding terrorist activity, which in turn is killing humans.
People, what are we doing? Here is a paragraph written by a six year boy, who will be turning 7 in April. He is the son of a friend of mine who wrote down his thoughts about the killing of elephants after his mum explained what I am trying to do with my blog. I have written this word for word. He can see the destruction and if a six year old can: there is hope for all of us.
ELEPHANTS: by Kaian Nelson
‘Elephant’s are a wonderful thing letting us have sun. They are also a part of nature. People think that it isi’nt the real thing. You would not like it if you were killed. Men are cruel and ladies are cruel to. Men are cruel for killing the elephants and women are cruel for suportin men. The more you kill, the more water and lives you will lose. Medicine from horns : tut tut tut. If you want to live to 20 go for it and if you want your kid’s to live to 8 go for it. But if you want everybody to live to 98 then stop stop stop. It’s a life cycle round and round just like us stop stop it. I would not forgive you and neither will elephants. STOP.’
How lucky are the elephants to have this little guy on their side? A young spirit who will burn a path in conservation.
We as consumers hold the key. We can all participate in this fight against poaching. (Please read my poem.) Stop the demand for ivory and rhino horn. Together we can make sure that our magnificent elephants and rhinos DO NOT become a distant memory. Let us put a stop to the destruction and violence. The death tolls are huge.