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Nature Explored

Photography
by Chris Dunford

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

Elephant and Rhino Poaching - A Global Catastrophe

Elephants in Tarangire

In 1900 there were approximately 10 million Elephants and half a million rhinos in Africa. They were steadily killed for their ivory and horns. In the 1980s there was a huge increase in demand for ivory from the Far East, and poaching escalated massively, resulting in the decimation of the remaining herds until the numbers of elephant fell to around 400 thousand and black rhinos were on the brink of extinction with numbers down to around 2500. white rhinos at this point fared slightly better with numbers around 6000.

CITIES introduced a ban on ivory trading in 1989, and, along with anti poaching efforts the decline was halted. The demand dropped off and thanks to the efforts of many people who cared, the populations of both species started to recover. By the Mid 2000s the Numbers of elephant and black rhino were around half a million and 4500 respectively. White rhino were up at around 20000.

But the World was changing, and largely due to the increase in wealth of the burgeoning Chinese and Vietnamese middle classes, the demand for ivory and horn soared again over the next few years. And the killing began again, but this time with the aid of high technology equipment and more modern and lethal weapons, in the hands of ruthless and brutal gangs of poachers directed by powerful criminal organizations, and often with the involvment of senior governmental figures, the police and the army in many of the elephant range states.

If you own Ivory or Rhino Horn you have Blood on Your Hands

The numbers increased at a frightening rate: in 2016 an estimated 20000 elephants were slaughtered globally (from a peak of 30000 in 2014) and 1054 rhinos (mostly white) were killed in South Africa alone, almost all due to a demand for trinkets and status symbols. As of September 2016 the Great Elephant Census counted the Savannah elephant population as 352271. They are confident that this number represents at least 93% of all savannah elephants. There may be around 100000 forest elephants as well but there are no good figures. They are being severely poached.

Wildlife Crime Scorecard

Whilst the Chinese have recently shown great leadership by commiting to close their domestic ivory market by the end of 2017, the Vietnamese People, along with other Asian Countries such as Laos, with the knowledge of their respective governments, feel that they have the God given right to wipe out these beautiful animals with impunity, and with no regard or accountability to the rest of the World.

The Vietnamese and the others are out of synch with the desires and the wishes - even the rights - of the rest of the World, in these matters.

Much more must be done at a political and cultural level to change the peoples attitudes otherwise within about 15 years there will be no elephants and rhinos left in the wild.

The rest of the World cannot stand by and shake their heads in horror, and yet say or do nothing. It is up to each one of us to raise our voice in protest, and urge our leaders to develop the political will to let these governments know on our behalf that we will not tolerate this behaviour from anyone and insist that the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn is stopped completely.

It is up to the leaders of the rest of the World to show them that this is not acceptable, at any price.

Some small steps are being taken, but all governments, including those in the Far East, must be convinced that they need to allocate far more resources to tackling one of the World's biggest crimes - now only surpassed by arms, people and drug trafficking - and apprehending the powerful and influential 'kingpins' of the whole depraved business, both within government and without.

Rhino poaching in SA

What are our governements doing on our behalf, and our children's behalf, to help stop this barbaric situation?

Are we aiding the governments and NGOs in the range states either financially or with equipment?

Can we offer manpower and expertise to assist?

Can we sanction those governments where nothing is being done to stem the trade or where corrupt members are facilitating it?

Can we educate those populations to encourage a culture shift away from the desire to own 'blood ivory?'

Are convicted poachers and criminal gang organizers being dealt with appropriately?

Do the offending peoples fueling the market really want to be seen as greedy, self centred, callous and barbaric - as the nations responsible for bringing these great animals to extinction and denying the People of the rest of the World their natural heritage?

If you would like to do something to help then perhaps you could do any of the following: donate to a wildlife charity. Write to your government. Protest. Spread the word on social media and verbally.

Go to these websites for all the horrendous details and more information on what you can do.

   Bloody Ivory          Save the Rhino       and look on my Links page for more websites to visit.

The following link shows a 30 second You Tube video of the Sickening Truth about Rhino Poaching. Only click it if you are prepared to be upset, and I hope that it encourages you to act or make your voice heard.