Matthew Scully, in The Atlantic, wrote an excellent article about elephant poaching: Scientists tell us that elephants have death rituals. They will, for instance, cluster around a dead individual and touch the carcass with their trunks, and then return much later to caress the bones. Mkanga, (a poacher that was arrested), is asked if he knows that elephants mourn their dead. He shifts in his chair, adjusts his Safari Beer cap, and smirks. "Sometimes when they have a funeral, it's like a party for me," he says. "You shoot one, and before he dies the others come to mourn for the one who is injured. And so I kill another one, and kill another one."
They aim for the legs, to cripple the elephants first, or in large-scale attacks fire indiscriminately into the herd. Invariably, investigators find evidence that tusks, reaching deep into the skull, have been cut out (chopped out with an ax) before some of the creatures were even dead. The poachers often leave poison on the carcasses, to kill the vultures whose swirling above might alert rangers. Sometimes they poison the elephants, with (poison) laced pumpkins or watermelons set out before the attack, or with poisoned arrows, or nails on boards laid in the brush (for the elephants to step on and cripple them) that prolong the agony but muffle the noise.
Elephants are a "keystone" species, as the ecologists say, a giant force in nature whose fortunes affect everything around them for good or ill, and it turns out something similar is true of their place in the security environment. When we help them, we help so many others who suffer at the same hands. When we and our allies help troubled states to protect elephants, we're making them more stable nations, better able to protect themselves from other threats as well. And when, in the case of the central states, armies of thugs, rapists, human traffickers, and terrorists including a cell of al-Qaeda, are getting their money from the extermination of the elephants and the sale of ivory, it is in our urgent interest to stop them, and bring an end to the whole filthy business. (Emphasis mine)
(Some of the following information was excerpted from a NY Times article.)
Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory is the latest conflict resource in Africa, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent.
Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); al-Shabaab, a Somalia based militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda; and Darfur’s Janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons to sustain their mayhem.
(End of NYT quoted material)
In 2012, poaching levels in Africa were at their highest since international monitors began keeping detailed records in 2002. And 2012 broke the record for the amount of illegal ivory seized worldwide. In December of 2012 one single shipment of 1,500 elephant tusks (24 tons), was seized in Malaysia that was headed for China. And the amount of illegal ivory seized is only a tiny fraction of the amount of ivory that is hacked out of dead and dying elephants with an ax. In other words, the illegal ivory that is seized is only from the poachers and traders that are caught.
“We’re experiencing what is likely to be the greatest percentage loss of elephants in history,” said Richard G. Ruggiero, an official with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The huge populations in West Africa have disappeared, and those in the center and east are going rapidly,” said Andrew Dobson, an ecologist at Princeton. “The question is: Do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants?”
Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (bordering the Central African Republic) once had more than 20,000 elephants. Last year, there were around 2,800. This year (2013), maybe 2,000.
Over the past twenty years terrorist poachers from Sudan have badly affected the elephant population in the Bamnigui-Bangoran National Park in northeastern Central African Republic where Ecofaune Project works.
The symbol of the CAR is an elephant! As Julie Owona of Cameroon writes at Al Jazeera: "with the disappearance of elephants, the continent is losing a part of its soul."
Scully continues: “But taking the basic numbers -- some 12 million elephants south of the Sahara in the early 1900's, versus 400,000 today and probably closer to 350,000 -- this is a species killed off to about 3 percent of its population in the space of a hundred years, less time than the combined normal life spans of a single elephant and her mother.” Read that again and let it sink in.
(End of quotes)
Rampant poaching, by UN estimates, claimed 32,000 African elephants in 2012 alone—up from 25,000 killed in 2011--.that is more than 87 elephants slaughtered every single day. So every morning by the time you finish your coffee more than three elephants have been killed illegally in Africa……. just for their ivory! Think about that for a minute. How long do you think the elephant population is going to last in Africa? The clock is ticking. What are you willing to do to help??!!
Look at the maps below and read the associated information, courtesy of the National Geographic Society:
Most of the world’s countries agreed to ban international trade in ivory in 1989. Yet demand has grown in Asia, driven by new wealth in China. Ivory seizures represent only a fraction of what gets through and sold to willing Chinese buyers.
Each tusk icon above represents 90 elephants, based on a tusk weight of 11 pounds, used to help calculate poaching levels. For comparison, the tusk shown below is 12.2 pounds.
Now you understand the scope of this horrendous problem. But here is the good news…….. you can help us put a stop to the elephant poaching in the Africa. Please make a donation right now.
"Wisdom knows what to do next, skill knows how to do it, and virtue is doing it." -David Starr Jordan