DEDICATED TO ALL THOSE GENTLE GIANTS WHO END OF UP IN CHINESE CARVING FACTORIES..
AND THIS IS WHY I AM MARCHING FOR ELEPHANTS AND RHINOS
A smartly dressed middle class Chinese woman leans over the counter, her manicured blood red nails stark against her pale hands as she taps the immaculate glass counter with her fingers. As she nods the light reflects off the thick shiny wave of hair, her open smile showing small even pearly white teeth and a darting pink tongue. Behind the trader endless displays of ivory tusks and numerous creamy trinkets lie entombed in glass cabinets. A temple to modern Chinese artisans/craftsmen and a tragic resting place for what remains of these magnificent and sentient animals. The warm and heavy evening breathes slowly as the trader, desperate for a sale appeases her impatience by removing innumerable trinkets and tusks from behind sleek glass for her to caress. Behind her, a noisy crowd like a slow destructive tidal wave surge forward in their lust for ivory. Her dark eyes run the length of an enormous tusk. She is only seeing a work of art which has taken a year of endless carving and patience. She is not seeing the elephant whose rhythm of life has been broken…suddenly and without warning.
With a friendly wave and warm smile she inches her way through the crowd, delighted with her purchase. With one last glance and dreaming of a return she steps out into the smog filled air leaving the cloying warmth and mighty stillness of the ‘elephant graveyard’ behind her. Her head is full of admiration for the carver who has turned this elephant into such an extraordinary piece of artwork. It will sit in pride of place on the lounge window sill enshrouded by delicate lace curtains splashed with swirls of red..a perfect backdrop for this blood ivory. With a warmth spreading like sunshine over her soul she has no idea that she is playing a part in the demise of the African elephants. The emptiness of these hateful crimes….unbeknown to her…. match the sad lumbering of an old bull elephant whose noble head was once the proud owner of the perfect scythe like tusk that she has paid an absolute fortune for and now owns.
The clean smooth remains from this noble creature lie along with the remains of hundreds of other elephants in the stillness of the African bush under a blistering sun in the Niassa Reserve, Northern Mozambique. If only she could see what is left of this trundling bull. If only she and millions of other Chinese buyers of ivory and rhino horn could read the headline..
If only they could hear the raging screams of elephants under attack as ‘beasts of war swoop down from above in their modern machines’and the pungent smell of death chokes the untamed bush. Africa’s sunrise which should offer a fiery promise to each new day is revealing bloody and violent ‘killing fields’. If only she could hear the distressed screams from small calves as they try to rouse their mother’s from a permanent sleep, their small muscular trunks rusty red and caked with blood and a glazed expression in their eyes. Without the protection of their herd, they too will become sad statistics in this harsh and timeless land. The scavengers are excited by the stench of blood and torn flesh and the survivors of this massacre know instinctively that their time is coming..the flame of life flickers dimly. Late evening shadows, always obedient to the lowering sun cannot obscure this godless scene unfolding while the world watches..for the most part silent.
China…this is the tortured scene of desolation and loss..the true cost of ivory trinkets. Lives are being destroyed by the unquenchable lust for ivory. China..close down the ivory carving factories. These are licensed by one man.. Mr. Zhao Shucong.
An aerial survey of the Quirimbas Park in 2013 found 854 live elephants, and 811 carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers. In other words, 48.7 per cent of the elephants spotted in the park were dead. A similar survey in the Niassa Reserve in 2011 found 12,029 live elephants and 2,627 carcasses.
And it is the Niassa and Quirimbas elephant herds that are now being targeted by organised criminal gangs, in what Pereira said “can be described, with no exaggeration, as a national disaster”.
‘Pemba, in Mozambique, is famous for exporting timber. It is also one of the areas where the smuggling is the most serious. Here there are a large number of Chinese timber merchants. According to an Environmental Investigation Agency report in 2012, there are a large number of Chinese timber companies that have engaged in illegal exploitation and smuggling. One official, from the Mozambique Tourism Bureau, told the Southern Weekend reporter that some timber dealers, by virtue of well-established timber transport routes, transport ivory hidden in large vans to other countries. “Some government officials are also involved, but I can’t comment on that. ” –
Authorities look the other way as raw ivory in the shape of elephant tusks can be found on sale in Maputo.
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