I have always had poaching as a concern of mine, mainly due to my love of elephants more than anything else, but I have to admit, looking into this topic in more detail from a conservationist point of view has just made me more interested in making a change. The facts and the figures speak for themselves; this is a problem, a problem which is gaining rising levels of awareness, but to which a clear solution has yet to be found. The illegal ivory trade is having a devastating effect on wildlife across the continents, not just in regards to elephants and rhinos, and has paved the way for a boom in regards to other cases of animal trafficking as well.
The desire for ivory and for exotic animals and their parts will continue to grow and unless something is done to stop it, the numbers of animals killed to meet that demand will not fall. While there are a lot of human-affecting problems going on in the world right now, from the Ebola outbreak in Africa to the civil rights protests occurring in America currently, I don’t think that the problems which have been caused by humans but which affect creatures other than ourselves should be forgotten. These animals are more than just their parts, and awareness needs to be spread to help people learn about the problems they are facing.
Awareness is growing though. Words of a royal and words of a president will tend to have that affect, and as events like the March for Elephants and Rhinos (which occurs at the start of October each year), hopefully it will continue to spread further.
Do I believe that it is ‘Too Little; Too late’? Personally, no. I think that there is a chance to turn this around, to stop what is occuring in Africa and to put a halt to the ivory trade once and for all… but I think that in order to do that, a mountain of problems have to be overcome. The technology being developed is the best foot forward in the war on blood ivory, in my opinion, and the awareness working alongside that is key as well. But more than that; the largest demand for ivory is originating from China and other Asian Countries (China especially for Elephant tusk, and Vietnam currently as the leader in regards to demand for rhino horn). This demand is due to the culture of the people there, and that is not something that can be ignored. Cultures should be respected, should be understood… but I think education of those who adhere to that culture is a requirement.
People in the western world showing they care is all very well and good, but when Asian countries are holding the demand, don’t you think ordinary people living there need to be shown why they should care as well? I’m not saying that it’s not occurring; the peaceful protests which took place in Hong Kong are proof enough that the awareness is there… but is it enough? Right now, I don’t think it is.
But with help? I think it could be.
I would love to work with elephants again. I have worked with ex-domesticated elephants in Thailand, and next I would love to work with wild Elephants in Africa. I would like to study them, to look more into their fascinating behaviour which I have always been interested them… but more than that, I would like to help save them. This project has made me aware of just what is going in to stopping the poaching crisis, and it has helped me realise just what I could potentially do to help. And I honestly hope that these posts and this blog has helped at least one other person do the same.
Perhaps I’m just selfish, or incredibly passionate about this subject… but I’d rather like to be able to sing ‘Nellie the Elephant’ to my child in ten years time, without them responding with the upsetting question: ‘What’s an elephant?’.