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The Blood Ivory & Elephant Effect

The Blood Ivory & Elephant Effect


To some people when pondering about elephants, the first thing that comes to their mind is the circus and zoo for that is where they have seen them. The notion that there are big herds of wild elephants roaming in their natural habitat in big plain grass and forest lands in Africa, India, Thailand, the Philippines, and other Asian countries seems not to cross their minds. They never seem to ask themselves now that these are pet animals in the zoo what could be their source of origin? It is only when they have investigated much further, heard stories, watched movies and films or read books about elephants’ natural traits, characters and behaviors that they begin to fall madly in love with them.

While taking wildlife adventure safari in Africa you will learn that herds of Elephants are always under a supreme matriarch quite often the most senior, strong and influential female. She controls all activities of the herd; feeding area, direction of movement, settles disputes among members, time and duration of rest, watering places and times, assigns responsibilities and minds about day to day lifestyle of all herd members.  Elephants have a longer life expectancy than human beings in most countries; above 80 years to be precise. They possess a very accurate memory that may span more than 40 years long; meaning anything happening to an elephant at any moment will be stored in strong memory for 40 or more years! They memorize seasons and know where their food diet will be in plenty or scarce in drought season many years ahead of time; hence determining their direction of movement. Very exciting about elephants is that they are emotional just like human beings and depending on the conditions on the ground show moods of excitement like in plenty food season, sorrow and groom like sickness or death of a member in the herd and whenever they pass by heaps of bones or remains of an elephant, they halt their movement for some time in show of respect!

With industrial revolution and need for raw materials to satisfy industry needs, vast forms of land a natural habitat in which big herds of elephants roamed freely have been opened up to plantation farms, urban centers for business, settlement and work places, dumping of industrial waste, money economies, wealth and improved lifestyle and other factors have all changed human behavior and in many ways elephants and other wildlife lifestyles. Elephants in particular are hunted for their ivory; a rare resource in the category of diamond, gold, silver, and platinum used in making expensive art and domestic items to classify owners as the rich of the society and above the rest. This greatly entices many people into hunting and poaching elephants in attempt to satisfy rich peoples’ greed and arrogance to show off wealth in one of the most primitive ways and become instant millionaires! The elephant tails and other body parts are used as fly whisks and by some people for traditional medicinal purposes. Some communities of people hunt elephants for bush meat despite having big herds of domestic animals in their courtyards! From the above reasons it can be argued that there is absolutely no strong reason for hunting elephants other than some individuals’ greed to show off their wealth. This is a trend that each one of us must fight and take part in using any available means to stop and disseminate positive information to others.

In an article BLOOD IVORY Carl Safina highlights the 1989 ban of trade in elephant products by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which protects endangered animals and plants from becoming extinct, endangered or threatened highlights the main dangers to African elephants in the wild, main culprits in illegal trade in elephant products, major markets and what could be done to stop this trade. Despite the ban due to the violence it brings to the world; unaccounted source of wealth which is hard to monitor how it is spent, crude methods of denying elephants their life, proceeds from illegal trade finance terror organizations and others, still poaching and hunting of elephants persist. Many governments, security and conservation agencies, international organizations, community groups, individuals, name it have put their efforts together most often, but poaching and illegal trade in wildlife like many epidemics persist and only seems to make it very hard to deal in it and increasing the value of the products! This has led to a black market with hardcore crafty individuals well financed with sophiscated gadgets by secret agents to run it. The task of controlling hunting of elephants needs to be intensified with all available means.

The world is now more aware of methods traditionally used for killing many wildlife species and obtaining wildlife products notably hunting nets, spearing, poisoned arrows, metal traps, wire snare, the trend like in other fields has now changed with improved technology to match it as there are many reports of use of automatic machine guns, rifles with night vision,  sniper guns with helicopters, automatic rifles, use of mobile handset for communication, quick means of transport and where possible use of cash and other benefits to compromise the would be law enforcers. This poses a very big threat as it is becoming harder to determine who is not capable of poaching or abetting it.

Recent studies show that 35,000 elephants are brutally killed each year amounting to 3 elephants killed for every 20 minutes. This is indeed a tragedy happening within our own eyes and for which all able bodied person should intervene in to stop. Because it is believed that proceeds from ivory trade are funding organized crime globally and other illegal activities in society including terror organizations like Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Democratic Republic of Congo, al shabab, al Qaeda, and other Isis allied organization in one way or the other trade in wildlife products affects each one of us! As such it has acquired the name Blood ivory with the same core values like Black Diamonds and as such “Ivory is about poverty, ethnic rivalry, terrorism and civil war” according to Rachael Bale.  Ivory’s value is ever increasing even further on the black market where it sells more than hot cakes and perfectly fits the billing of black market and organized crime.

From time immemorial humankind has lived peacefully with all wildlife species and in some cases in Samburu National Park in Kenya livestock grazes peacefully besides big herds of elephants. As long as each one knows its boundaries there are minimum cases of conflict. With continued rampant killing of elephants severe scenarios are likely happen as has happened in some areas;

  • Elephants used to roam all plain lands of Africa and were hunted to extinction in some places in extreme cases the whole country notable; Sierra Leone and Senegal.
  • Elephants are nature’s most prominent species basing on their sheer size and activities in the eco system. For instance they consume huge amounts of tree leaves, break branches, trample on and displace some unpalatable species, hence allowing other nutritious species to thrive for smaller mammals to feed on.
  • Many communities leaving close to protected areas benefit from tourism related activities in which elephant is a prominent attraction. Hunting them to extinction in a big way denies local communities a source of livelihood and increased poverty.
  • Borassus Palm trees are an indigenous plant in South Sudan and were never in Uganda until introduced by elephants through seed dispersal. In a big way determining the beautiful vegetation and scenery in Murchison Falls National Park; Uganda.

Elephants are not merely zoo or circus pet animals to entertain people. For a long time humankind has spilled blood of elephants for selfish interests yet they have been so good to us. We need to rise up and say enough is enough using any available means within our reach. For with continued killing of elephants and other wildlife species we are heading to increased global warming, desertification, floods and landslides, scarcity of water and a gloomy and boring world for which we are solely responsible. We owe the future generations an apology for letting this go on as we watch.