“Please take ivory poaching in Africa seriously “ plea the African community. “There’s so much more at risk!”


Poachers killed over 30,000 elephants last year and around 4 every hour this year. Elephants will be extinct within the next decade if the killing continues at this rate. Prince William recently urged Chinese citizens to stop buying illegally traded wildlife products, where ivory is of cultural importance and used for novelty items including chopsticks and statues.

Elephants dead from poaching

Elephants dead from poaching

Illegal poachers, who kill the elephants because it’s too dangerous to remove their tusks while they are still alive, do so in a variety of inhumane ways. Many poachers are essentially unskilled marksmen using underpowered rifles, which results in the elephant being severely wounded and dying a slow, painful death. Alternatively, some poachers actually use land mines to hunt ivory, resulting in the elephant not being killed instantly due to it’s size, and consequently bleeding out over many days or dying of infection first. Some poachers dump cyanide into watering holes, killing not only elephants, but every animal that drinks there.

Elephant poaching happens in many African countries, but largely in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and in light of the severity of elephant poaching, Guardian columnist and wildlife activist Dr. Paula Kahumbu, also a Kenyan native, penned a damning commentary questioning why African leaders are silent on the subject of animal poaching.

Whilst Dr. Kahumbu did not necessarily answer the question, I was left pondering whether action had not been taken due to poaching only having a negative affect on the elephants themselves. But this is not so. Wildlife poaching has negative affects on not only wildlife populations, but also the environment and consequently, the local communities too.

Elephants are ecologically important as they are responsible for the distribution of plant seeds, so extinction, or even a reduction in elephants, will have a negative impact on local vegetation, affecting the food supplies of other animals and the local community.

Additionally, wildlife tourism plays a vital role in the local and national economies of some of the African countries where poaching is most prevalent. Therefore economic hardship resulting from a loss of wildlife is a possibility. If Safari tours lose business, so do local restaurants, hotels, airports and a multitude of other businesses. It is the local community that whose livelihoods and welfare depend on the animals who will suffer first.

Distressingly, some of those illegally poaching are people from the local community, with poaching being more lucrative than other jobs that are available in the region for the locals. But it is not only those simply looking to earn a wage to survive that are poaching. In her call for action, Kahumbu states that poaching’s highly profitable proceeds (with demand being so high and supply low) fund criminal and terrorist activities. In late 2013, the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya was attacked by terrorists, which Kahumbu believes may have been funded in such a way. Apparently, al Qaida alone raises $600,000 a month from poaching to fund its activities. And Nigeria’s Boko Haram is targeting elephants in Cameroon.

Henceforth, it can be assumed that the affects of elephant poaching on the populations where poaching is prominent indeed has a range of negative socio-economic impacts on the local community and the country as a whole. Why then are the African leaders and governments still silent when the monarchs and governments of the international community are responding? Could it possibly be that the personal profit gained by these leaders and need for capital to fund their wars is more appealing than eradicating the negative affects for these animals and the communities that these leaders are supposed to serve? This may possibly be the case. Still, others fight on in the bid to save the elephants and the communities who rely on them. The African leaders may be silent, but with this petition, you don’t have to be!


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