Elephant population dwindles as demand for ivory grows; how to foster a baby elephant

On Wednesday "Nightly News" aired a report from special correspondent Chelsea Clinton featuring naturalist Daphne Sheldrick (above), who has been working for decades to preserve Kenya's wildlife. The final piece in Clinton's two-part series (below) aired Thursday, and it explains how baby elephants orphaned by poachers are being rescued and raised.

Read how the elephants are being rescued here.

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I saw it on NBC. It was horrific to see a baby elephant refusing to leave its dying mother's side. 

Yeah very sad.

Catholic Church enables elephant poaching, especially in the Phillipines. Monsignor Cristobal Garcia is one of the best known ivory collectors in the Philippines. Some highly organized military scale poachers are Muslim.

Ivory Worship

Elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years.

Many believe that what you invest in devotion to your own icon determines what blessings you will receive in return. For some, then, a fiberglass or wooden icon is not enough. For them, the material of choice is elephant ivory.

Oh I didn't know that the ivory was fueled by the Catholic Church and its religious icons. Thank you Ruth for the knowledge you bring to me.

Blood Ivory fuels conflict.

New players have entered the bloody business of African ivory, and they are even more brutal than average poachers. These are militia members and rebels who mow down the animals with heavy arms to finance their wars. Groups such as the militant Islamist al-Shabab in Somalia, the Janjaweed of Sudan and the notorious Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda are turning the savannahs of central Africa into a Killing Fields for elephants.

As diamonds once did in Sierra Leone, ivory is now "fueling conflicts across the continent," The New York Times wrote earlier this month. At a US Senate hearing this May, expert on illegal trade Tom Cardamone testified: "In recent years, organized crime syndicates, militias, and even terrorist elements have taken notice of the profits that can be made in the illegal trafficking of wildlife, generating an alarming up-tick in the scale of the industry and posing serious national security concerns for the United States and our partners." Experts in Africa are already talking of "blood ivory," an allusion to the "blood diamonds" that warlords in Sierra Leone once used to pay for their ammunition. [emphasis mine]

Brutal Elephant Slaughter Funds African Conflicts

Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits

Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.

... it is not just outlaws cashing in. Members of some of the African armies that the American government trains and supports with millions of taxpayer dollars — like the Ugandan military, the Congolese Army and newly independent South Sudan’s military — have been implicated in poaching elephants and dealing in ivory.

The vast majority of the illegal ivory — experts say as much as 70 percent — is flowing to China, and though the Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries, never before have so many of them been able to afford it. China’s economic boom has created a vast middle class, pushing the price of ivory to a stratospheric $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing.

The demand for ivory has surged to the point that the tusks of a single adult elephant can be worth more than 10 times the average annual income in many African countries. In Tanzania, impoverished villagers are poisoning pumpkins and rolling them into the road for elephants to eat.

... only a well-oiled criminal machine — with the help of corrupt officials — could move hundreds of pounds of tusks thousands of miles across the globe, often using specially made shipping containers with secret compartments. The smugglers are “Africa-based, Asian-run crime syndicates,”...

Some experts say the survival of the species is at stake, especially when many members of the African security services entrusted with protecting the animals are currently killing them. [emphasis mine]

Us soldier trains Ugandan military (from unrelated article)

Elephant Guards Murdered in Chad

Rangers protecting the last elephant herds are being murdered.

Now the hunted are the guards who protect elephants. With the price of ivory gone vertical, and an almost limitless demand, it would seem that the intent of those doing the killing is to kill until the elephants are gone. These guards are in the way.

If history is any indicator, the poachers will not stop when the elephants are gone. Just as these men turned their focus to elephants once the black rhinos were gone, they will turn to every other species, including humans, as sources of revenuethrough banditry, armed hold-ups, and worse. [emphasis mine]

 

The difficulty of halting this slaughter is highlighted by the numbers driving the illegal market.

Some would argue that we need to kill the demand. Well, a friend of mine has said, “In China if you somehow managed to convince 99.9 percent of the population not to buy ivory, that 0.1 percent who remain unconvinced represents 1.3 million people still wanting to buy ivory.” That’s three times more people than there are elephants left in Africa.

Elephant slaughter by international organized crime soars.

New Promises Follow Elephant Slaughter in Chad and Cameroon

On March 14-15, at least 86 elephants were killed in Tikem, near Fianga in the Mayo Kebbi East region of southwestern Chad, close to the Cameroon border. Among the victims were more than 30 pregnant females, many of which aborted their calves when they were shot. The calves were left to die, and reportedly some were shot.

... just weeks after the discovery of 28 elephant carcasses, all stripped of their ivory tusks, in Cameroon’s Nki and Lobeke National Parks and at least 15 carcasses across four separate locations in Central African Republic.

All these incidents followed numerous reports of columns of Sudanese poachers crossing Central African Republic and heading toward Cameroon and Chad.

Both the Chad and Cameroon governments had responded to this advance notice. In December, the Chad government sent soldiers and military aircraft to patrol the region and Cameroon deployed its Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a special forces military unit. But neither was able to find the poaching gangs and stop them.

... acknowledged that national initiatives to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking had failed. ... to combat the transnational, organized crime networks that are operating in the region.

Around the world, penalties are notoriously low for wildlife crimes. On March 19 in Ireland, for instance, two rhino horn dealers were fined 500 Euros ($650) each for illegally smuggling eight rhino horns, valued at an estimated 500,000 Euros ($650,000) on the black market.

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