Battle for the Elephants - China's role in extinction
China is fueling the ivory trade and elephants are being slaughtered in record numbers. In 2012 it has been reported that over 38,000 elephants were killed for their tusks. Yes, what I said was 38,000. A new documentary called Battle for the Elephants exposes viewers to the illegal ivory trade and how that is impacting elephant population.
China is consumed by the need to demonstrate their own personal wealth and status by collecting ivory art. Ivory artisans have existed for centuries and ivory’s presence in Chinese homes and businesses is well-known but what fails to be understood is that they are fast approaching a time when ivory will not exist and this prized visual art will die with it. There is strong evidence that at the current rate of killing, elephants will be extinct within the next decade. If not purely wiped out there will certainly not be enough left to quench China’s insatiable appetite for their tusks.
It has always astounded me that for all the intelligence we credit China and its people with, they are unable to comprehend their responsibility to sustain animals, both on land and in the sea, for which they are dependent. China’s people can covet art, tout medicinal purposes and celebrate the status that surrounds an animal’s body part but are incapable of hunting something both ethically and sustainably. Engaging in criminal activity and covert trade is completely acceptable in the name of ivory possession and other animal trades; which includes the slaughter and sale of Dolphins, Bears and Sharks. Unlike cultures who sought harmony with other creatures and honored an animals sacrifice the Chinese appear to simply take what they want without thought of what that means to the species.
In the case of the elephants, the battle continues in an effort to protect this beautiful and soulful animal. Many organizations, including The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which I support through sponsorship, are trying desperately to protect elephants from poaching. It is an uphill battle driven by the demand of people on one side that view elephants as an income and those on the other side that see elephant tusks as both a cultural and status symbol. Those working to protect the few remaining elephants put themselves in great peril when confronted by armed poachers who know that hundreds if not thousands of dollars are coming their way from deep pockets.
PBS has aired this new documentary entitled “Battle for the Elephants”, which can help each of us become familiar with the roles people play in this trade. It is doubtful that many of the Chinese people and wealthy worldwide who seek ivory for display will wake up tomorrow and see the value of preserving elephants but that doesn’t mean a difference can’t be made. My hope is that you feel inspired to do what you can in your own way to protect elephants for our future children to know and love. Here is some suggestions on how you can help:
* Donate to protection and preservation programs such as The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or others.
* Do not buy anything from a store that sells ivory and make sure that store owners understand why you will not be a customer of their shop.
* Start an online petition at Change.org asking for the ban of ivory sales plus a greater enforcement of laws surrounding the trade.
* If donation, personal action or petition is not your thing then at the very least teach your children more about the plight of elephants. Maybe, if your children are lucky, they can be champions of a different future for the few remaining elephants on our planet.
Here is a link to Battle for the Elephants on National Geographic Television. There are four videos in total and I encourage you to watch each preview provided. Click on these links