I believe that most of us know the dangers that elephants in Africa have faced over the last decades. Poachers have decimated the population. Through illegal hunting activities the population has decreased by 37 percent over the last decade and a half.
That number is even more alarming when we consider the sizable number of elephants poached each day; approximately 100 elephants are killed daily.
To put more of a desperate need on those numbers recently 87 of these creatures were found dead near a sanctuary in Botswana. Chances are this happened over time. The majority of these animals were killed in protected areas. This is the world that we live in. The world’s largest land mammal, one of the iconic animals of the African world is being wiped out by poachers.
Why do elephants get poached so often? This is a pretty complex issue. The main reason for people trying to poach them is for their ivory tusks. Those large, white tusks are what make up the illegal ivory trade. It is a commodity that stretches through most of the world; both legally and illegally.
Recently several countries set up a ban on trading ivory into their nation and within that nation’s borders. China was one of them as was the U.S.A. Unfortunately the American ban was weakened by lobbyists who enjoy hunting endangered animals for sport.
There are also religious implications and old time superstitions regarding ivory and its alleged magical properties. These all add up to a vast number of elephants getting slaughtered each year. It is easy to dismiss those beliefs as cruel. It is also easy to determine that an ivory ban is a great step toward saving elephants.
What seems to be far more difficult is stopping the ivory trade in general. From illegal poaching to government corruption there is a lot to contend with. There are a lot of people who are making a lot of money killing elephants. Some groups claim that selling permits to hunt elephants raises money for conservation. I would argue that if your main goal is conservation how can you justify killing something? If someone just wants to donate there are several organizations including the Humane Society and the World Wildlife Fund. Killing begets more killing, as they say.
In the end what steps are we willing to take to make a difference? How can we convince our government to work with other countries and stop this madness once and for all? Start by voting and writing to your representative about the issue.
If the elephants could give up their tusks to save their lives and those of their families and future generations I am 100 percent positive that they would. The grim reality is that they cannot. So in place of their voice we have to speak up and demand of the world that this ends. I hope that my daughter grows up knowing what an elephant is and not what an elephant was.
BOBBY RIAHI is a writer, chef and father who wants to make the world a better place through his writing. He grew up in small towns and tries to put the world into perspective from there. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.