HOW TO STOP IVORY POACHING & RESULTING ELEPHANT MASSACRES
How can People Help Elephants from Being Poached?
Several things can be done by people to stop elephants from being poached. You can support a ban on all ivory trade and not buy products with ivory in them. Also, you need to stay informed and know what is happening because knowledge is power. Sign any petition that will help stop the ivory trade.
Let’s look closely at the things that people can do to help elephants from being poached:
* Support all bans on ivory trading * Do not buy items with ivory * Stay informed about ivory trading
Stop Ivory Trading
The ban on ivory trade that was put in place in 1989 was not a total ban, just a restriction. There were exceptions made to the ban and now elephants are being killed faster than ever.
In 1989 the rate of killing was 7.4% of the population and now it is 8%. The ban is not working. To top it off, the United States has the second largest demand for ivory. The British not-for-profit organization Care for the Wild International, reports that China is the biggest marketplace for illegal ivory, and the United States is second. It only stands to reason that if there were no market for the ivory, the poaching would be impacted.
Hundred of elephants have been killed in Kenya’s national parks in the past few years. The demand for ivory is rising and the slaughter will continue until the ivory trade is banned all over the world. The price of a kilogram of ivory on the black market can be as much as $3,000s while on the legal market it is about $880 (2005 estimates). Currently, the population of African elephants is estimated to be 470,000. It was 1.2 million in 1979. Avoid Buying Ivory
The second way people can help elephants from being poached is simple: do not buy any products that have even a little ivory in them. This sounds easy enough, and it is. If no one bought, then the poachers won’t be able to sell. Part of this problem is the exceptions to the ban. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) allowed limited legal sales of ivory because they were told that it was necessary for economic reasons and to reduce animal population.
These were not the facts, because the money from legal sales does not help the people living in these countries. In spite of the facts, CITES still allows limited trade and the elephant population is diminishing faster than ever. So, become a label reader and ask questions, especially if you are traveling around the world. For more information, check out the World Wildlife Fund's Buyer Beware campaign. Support Anti-Poaching Activities
One interesting thing that is being done to help stop elephants from being poached is DNA testing. When an illegal shipment is seized, the DNA tests will pinpoint where the ivory came from. This is important because most, if not all, of the illegal poaching is funded by large crime syndicates.
There are a few other ways to help elephants not be poached and to thrive. One is to support sanctuaries and wildlife preserves that are trying to replenish the population of elephants. You can also support programs like Elephant Care International's Adopt a Village. Here you can help communities share their environment with elephants. There are many organizations dedicated to helping the plight of elephants and other wildlife, like the World Wildlife Fund and the World Land Trust, just to name a couple. You could also donate money to elephant and conservation research.
"Kenya: Row Over New Move to Allow Ivory Trade"
Kenya is opposing a move by Tanzania to reintroduce the
sale of ivory, saying it will increase elephant poaching in the region.
The Kenya Wildlife Service says Tanzania is taking advantage of a
"malicious loophole" and proposing the sale of ivory during an
"We are convinced Tanzania has contravened the spirit of the
(moratorium) agreement and Kenya is totally opposed to their proposal to
sell ivory," said Mr Patrick Omondi, a KWS senior assistant director.
However, Tanzania's director of Wildlife Erasmus Tarimo disagrees and says they are following the agreements currently in place.
"We're doing what is best for our elephant population," he said in a
phone interview, adding that revenues from the sale would go towards
Ivory trade has been closely regulated since the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species imposed a worldwide ban in
1989. The number of African elephants had dropped from 1.3 million in
1973 to less than 500,000, due mainly to poaching, when the ban was put
in place. Kenya has about 35,000 elephants.
Tanzania's proposal to down-list the African elephant from Appendix I
(facing extinction) to Appendix II (less threatened) is joined by
Zambia which has submitted a similar proposal of their own.
Kenya is not alone in the opposition to this sale. Ghana, Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Togo, Mali, Rwanda, and the Republic of Congo are
co-sponsors of the proposal on behalf of 21 other nations that support
it, said Mr Omondi.
What concerns the KWS is not just that Tanzania will be selling
instead of burning their stockpiles, but that they did not consult Kenya
in spite of shared elephant populations."
Young elephants usually suckle their mother until four, and stay with mother until about fifteen years.
Elephants hit puberty at about sixteen, go bald at approximately 30 and live until about seventy years of age. An adult elephant needs to drink 225 litres of water daily and eat approximately 120 kilograms of plant food.
Elephants are extremely intelligent animals and have memories that span many years. They display signs of grief, joy, anger and play, and also exhibit behaviour that reveals a concept of death and loss.
The Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre on Thursday requested an official probe into the deaths of three wild elephants in the Central Highlands district of Ea Sup during the final week of March. A 2-tonne male elephant was found dead on March 31 with many parts of its body missing in Ea Bung Commune. The body of a 4-year-old elephant, weighing some 500kg, was discovered on the same day in Cu M’lanh while five days later a 5-month-old animal was found dead in the same area.
The lives of elephants have been critically affected by deforestation for agriculture, said the centre’s director Huynh Trung Luan. - VNA (Publishers Note: If parts of their bodies were also missing, they are also being used for meat and ivory trade.)
Elephants in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the human population is 20 million, while elephants number only 2,500. In 1800 the elephant population was 12, 000. Many elephants were killed by English colonialists on hunting expeditions up until as recent as 1948. Since then, increasing habitat and food source destruction due to human population growth, logging, rice and tea plantations have pushed elephants to the brink. Many elephants resort to raiding crops and villages in the search for food to survive. A major drought has further contributed to this sad situation.
This battle for survival between the poverty-stricken villagers and the languishing elephants results in about 20 human deaths and over 150 elephant deaths each year. One very effective solution to help resolve this discord is the setting up of electric fencing. Where these fences have been put in place, conflict between the two have ceased, although constant monitoring and maintenance of the fencing is needed. The Elephant Conservation Foundation has sponsored the construction of electric fencing around a number of villages, but more financial contributions are necessary to help these poor villagers to put up more fences to protect both humans and elephants. But while elephant habitat and their food sources continue to dwindle at an increasing rate, there needs to be other measures put in place to ensure the elephant’s continued survival.
With many elephants being shot while raiding farms, baby elephants are left to die of starvation or predators, so organizations such as the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka provides a necessary service to give medical assistance and nurture baby elephants until they are released back into the wild. This organization survives on sponsorships and donations with running costs of $600,000 a year.
Another wonderful elephant organization based in Sri Lanka is the Millennium Elephant Foundation—a retirement home for elderly and sick working elephants. Elephants which have been chained up all their lives to work in logging groups or carrying tourists for Safari tours (this work is most injurious to elephants because the extreme weight of groups of people on their backs, usually leads to severe arthritic conditions later in life for these amazing animals). This home provides medical care and kind treatment and accommodation for the lucky few elephants that end their lives there.
Photograph taken in February 2012 of a family of elephants slaughtered in a National Park. Since the re-introduction of the legalized trade in ivory, elephant killing by ivory poachers has increased dramatically.
Elephant ivory trade has long been disputed because of the excessive manner in which it is carried out. For several years in some African nations trade was continued at high rates with no checks or regulations related to elephant poaching. As a result, a ban was placed on ivory trade and elephants were categorized as an endangered species by CITES. However, many years after the ban, elephant populations began to rise and some nations, specifically Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, lobbied to have it removed so that they could continue with ivory trade. Consequently the ban was lifted and limited ivory trade has resumed, with sales to Japan only.
Elephants have roamed the African continent for several centuries and in the past they were able to roam from one end of the continent to the other. Often it is believed that the elephant is a remnant from prehistoric times because of its size and ungainliness. There are two types of elephants on the earth today, one is the African elephant and the other is the Indian elephant. The two types have differences, mainly that they do not live on the same continent and their size differs considerably.
African elephants can weigh as much as 7000kg and grow up to 4 meters tall. They have a life span that can reach 80 years. Their diet is primarily vegetarian and they eat roughly 330 pounds of food each day. The habitat in which they live is varied, it ranges from savannahs to river valleys to the thornbush to the dense forest, and even to desert scrub. They can virtually live in any area because the type of food they eat is so varied, trees, fruits, and many other items. An elephant's characteristic color is a dull brown-gray.
Over the years in the nations of Africa, the elephant has come to take on a mystical or holy presense. It is a creature that people have lived and contended with for many years. Elephants are emotional and highly evolved. They live in groups and develop an emotional bond with the members of their group. These groups often have an intricate family and clan structure.
Elephants play a role in the forest. For example, the seeds that they eat and which pass through their digestive system tend to germinate better than ordinary seeds. In this sense elephants help maintain biodiversity by germinating seeds.
African elephants have ivory tusks that are valuable in certain cultures and used for different purposes. Often the ivory is hollowed out and used as an instrument or a horn. One horn is know as an "olifant" which was used in Medeival Times. African natives carve the ivory into trophies or trinkets. In Japan, where ivory trade is thriving, there is a large demand for personal ivory signature seals. In 1996 ivory carved from seventy tusks, worth $90,000 was shipped to Japan.
For years poachers have killed elephants to retrieve their tusks and then trade locally or on the international market. During the 1970s and 1980s elephant poaching had included about 1.3 million dead elephants killed for their tusks. When the excessive killing came to the attention of the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), they set out to ban the trade of ivory and consequently reduce elephant poaching. Trade was mainly conducted with the countries of the far east, China, Japan, and Taiwan. Earlier the elephant was listed by CITES on its Appendix II, which allows for limited trade. Then in January 1990 CITES proposed to ban international ivory trade and reduce the number of elephants killed. The ban did not address domestic trade of ivory and other elephant products, such as elephant meat. Specifically CITES moved the elephant to its Appendix I, which lists an animal as an endangered species and does not allow any international trade. The ban was opposed by southern African countries who needed the trade for their citizens' livelihood and they further argued that their elephant populations were not in danger of extinction.
Throughout the early 1990s illegal trade continued and in many nations poaching was on the rise, partly due to a decline in anti-poaching initiatives. However the ban did seem to take effect in three southern African nations, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Elephant populations in these countries were steadily increasing and did not appear to be endangered. For example, in Zimbabwe, there were roughly 65,000 elephants and the land could only handle half this amount. One factor that indicated the rise in elephant populations was the fact that elephant-human interaction began to increase. On their annual migrations through different parts of the continent, elephants would trample local peoples' lands and destroy their crops. Sometimes even fences could not keep elephants out from crop land. There are also cases of human deaths resulting from elephant encounters.
Protected parks were created in these nations where elephants could live without human intervention and without the fear of being killed. Unfortunately elephants have not been able to stay exclusively in the parks and they often venture out into human populated areas. In fact almost 80% of the elephant population lives outside the protected parks and regularly disturbs humans. As human populations surrounding park boundaries increase, human encounters are rising and becoming more destructive. Also the elephant's overpopulation affects the environment by trampling on natural foliage causing some forests to become grasslands. Currently some methods of birth control are under research but most forms appear to be too expensive. Additionally CITES realized two problems resulting from their ban, that indeed elephants in these countries did not need to be included in Appendix I and that there were major shortfalls in the regulations of ivory trade under the 1990 ban.
Eventually government officials in these countries approached CITES to lift the ban on ivory trade. They pushed CITES to downgrade the elephant from the most endangered species to Appendix II again. Despite strong opposition from the United States, France, and conservation groups, CITES lifted its ban for only three countries, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, to resume trade with Japan. Now this specific trade is unrestricted for the most part. The Japaneses pay up to 250 U.S. dollars per pound for ivory. Their reasoning for this trade is to benefit the villages and (ironically, elephant conservation) through the money earn, and provide financial benefit for these countries.
At the time of the amendment, proposals were created to provide protection against illegal trade and poaching in other African nations with endangered elephant populations. The agreement passed allowing international trade of ivory to begin 18 months after the downlisting went into effect. Initially an experimental quota for trade will be allocated to each country, 25.3 tons for Botswana, 13.8 tons for Namibia, and 20 tons for Zimbabwe. Another aspect of the agreement involves a standing committee of CITES that can halt trade and re-transfer downlisted populations to Appendix I if it finds that illegal hunting or trade has escalated as a result of the downlisting.
After the lifting of the ban there has been an increase in poaching in Zambia, Kenya, Central African Republic, Ghana, and Congo. Also there are no checks or modes to accurately monitor whether the ivory being traded is from elephants in the specific countries or if it is illegally entering the market from other countries where ivory trade is banned. The checks are not in place because of a lack of funding and lack of personnel to keep track of any ivory entering from across borders. It is very hard to distinguish between legal ivory and illegal ivory in the market. More and more, illegally poached ivory is reaching markets.
(Publishers note: This is hardly surprising. The same problems that motivated the previous ban on ivory trade are still as relevant, probably more relevant, than they were then. If people can make openly trade in the products gained from the death of elephants, those who can, will. The ivory trade was never for the benefit for elephants, and it certainly hasn't improved the financial situation of the general populace in these countries. The trade benefits the poachers and the corrupt in government. Everyone else loses...especially the elephants. How poor our world will be, if we lose this majestic animal, or the only examples we have, are those who must live their lives in small enclosures in captivity. Humans have plenty of alternatives to ivory. Make the trade illegal again, set more areas aside to protect these animals, and educate everyone about the benefits of conversation and compassion.)
"Elephants", excerpt from "The Source of Life" by Sarina Damen published in 1992, when the ivory trade was legal, prior to the ivory trade ban, and current legal trade re-introduction.
The shape of an African elephant's ear Is
the shape of Africa. The
shape of an Indian elephant's ear Is
the shape of India... As
if nature had kept an ear to the ground When
listening to the elephant's territorial requests. The Romans
believed the elephant was a religious animal; Pliny
observed it "worshipping the sun and stars, And
purifying itself at the new moon, Bathing
in the river, and invoking the heavens." In
the last decade Six
out of ten elephants in Africa Have
been massacred; And the entire
population may soon be shovelled contemptuously Into
the realm of mythology. In
the mind's eye of a child An
now be more accurately depicted As a
Excerpt from the poem - "Sacred Elephant" by Heathcote Williams.
creature likely to soon join the ranks of the extinct is the elephant. Both the
Asian and African species of elephant are known for their bulk, remarkable
intelligence, depth of emotion, strong social bonding and their tusks; the
later aspect of their fame being the first and foremost reason for their
The Asian elephant, an animal indigenous to India and South-East Asia,
has already had its population reduced to less than 10,000 animals due to the
destruction of its forest habitat for logging purposes and the provision of
agricultural land, and its slaughter for meat and tusks. While greater in
number than their Asian relatives, the African elephant population is rapidly
being depleted by the demand for ivory and the search for profit.
An estimated seventy thousand African
elephants are slaughtered each year. The continuance of the legal trade* in
ivory (encouraged by some African governments who state elephants are culled in
their localities to finance and preserve the National Parks in which the
remainder of the herds are to be protected!) has left the way open for poachers
to fill the existing demand for tusks and ivory products:
undoubtedly true that the presence of a legal trade makes it difficult for countries such as Kenya who are
trying to close down the trade completely.' - African Wildlife Foundation.
The elephant population in Kenya's Tsavo
National Park has been reduced from 35,000 in 1975 to less than 6 000 animals
by poachers armed with high-powered rifles and submachine guns, who kill these
sensitive creatures simply to provide ivory for carving industries to satisfy
someone's desire for an ivory wedding bangle or a decorative ornament. Young
calves with minuscule tusks the size and thickness of pencils are mercilessly
slaughtered along with the larger, more profitable adult animals.
* In June 1991, five Southern African countries - Zambia, Malawi,
bought into existence the Southern African Centre for Ivory Marketing (SACIM). In theory the profits from the sale of
ivory will flow to the `producers' - the
national wildlife management authorities (Source: African Wildlife Foundation).
Elephants have an extremely low population
growth rate. African elephants may first become pregnant at 9 - 12 years of age
and their gestation period is 22 months. Only half of those born are estimated
to survive long enough to reach sexual maturity, and females only produce at
most seven viable calves during their lifetime. The destruction and
fragmentation of the African elephants' habitat due to the rapidly expanding
human population and exploitation of available land places further stresses on
herds already decimated by the continuing slaughter for ivory. It is expected
that even if the trade was to halt immediately, it would still take decades for
these populations to recover (Source: Dept. of
the Interior U.S.).
Although nations like Kenya are prepared to
forego profit to help protect these intelligent, majestic creatures
(illustrated by their burning of a mountain of confiscated tusks), other
countries such as Zambia*, Tanzania, and Mozambique maintain that the legal
trade in ivory and the culling of elephants should continue, despite the
irrefutable evidence that the continuance of a legal market in tusks and ivory
curios will mean the end of the next decade will also mark the end of the age
of the elephant:
`The continental population of the African elephant has
diminished over the last decade at a rate of about eight percent per year,
largely because of habitat fragmentation and illegal killing to satisfy a large
world-wide demand for ivory. The Service proposes to reclassify populations of
elephants in most countries to endangered species status and to retain the
populations in Botswana, Zimbabwe andSouth Africa as threatened.' Department of Interior U.S. 1991.
proposes to cull elephants and market their products (ivory) despite the rapid depletion of its national herd due to
poaching. All signatories of SACIM have
implied that tusks `will be taken in regular harvests'.
present monotorium on ivory sale is believed to be `merely an attempt to curry international
favour, and does not demonstrate any commitment to the ivory trade ban'. (Source: Elephant & Ivory
Information Service, July 1991).
According to biologists and naturalists,
this remarkable creature exhibits behaviour which strongly suggests they hold
some concept of death. When an elephant dies, members of the elephant's family
caress its body with their trunks. They also defend the bodies of their dead
from scavengers, and appear to purposefully scatter the decayed remains of
their fallen comrades. Mother elephants have been known to carry their dead
calves on their tusks for many days, protecting them from the many jungle
creatures who would otherwise devour their offspring. The elephant supports its
wounded companions and shields them from attacks, showing an affection and
family bond not unlike that of humans.
An ivory-like substance derived from the
endosperm of a plant native to South America
called Phytelephas macrocarpa may be the saviour of the elephant. It can be
carved and worked by tradesmen in exactly the same way as ivory and has a very
similar appearance. Another possible method of helping prevent the elephant's
extinction is to develop a substance which can permeate and dye the tusk, not
affecting its usefulness to the elephant but rendering it worthless to the
poacher and other members of the ivory industry (similar to the way in which
Greenpeace sprayed red dye on the pelts of baby fur seals). Ultimately,
however, the fate of the elephant lies with governments who can forbid the
export and import of tusks and ivory curios, and consumers who can halt the
legal trade in these items by refusing to buy, sell or encourage the use of
items which are the direct result of slaughtering elephants.
`It is very hard to believe that in some countries the
elephant is almost extinct because of man's greed for money. Eventually they
will be extinct throughout Africa. This is
almost certain. The thought of these magnificent prehistoric animals, which are
extremely intelligent and have a social structure very close to our own, being
wiped off the face of the earth so that man may use their ivory for jewellery
is very depressing. Who is going to take away man's licence to kill?' 63.