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Kenya’s biggest elephant killed by poachers
June 13, 2014 10:44 AM   Subscribe

I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods; GPS smart-phones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles. I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows. More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic elephants.
The Guardian

More on Satao* and Mountain Bull

More on Tsavo's big tuskers, elephant poaching, KWS, ivory burning, Kenya and Dr Paula Kahumbu

previously
posted by infini (69 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by No Robots at 10:52 AM on June 13


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posted by PlusDistance at 10:54 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:55 AM on June 13


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posted by mazola at 10:56 AM on June 13


god damn
posted by rebent at 10:58 AM on June 13


God damn it. I'm a gentle person, or at least I try to be. I've taken the Wikipedia edit guidance of "assume good faith" to heart whenever I can. I attempt to turn the other cheek. But this sort of thing just fills me with white-knuckle, seeing-red, vein-throbbing rage that people can be so self-centred and short-sighted and... and human that it makes me a little crazy.
posted by Shepherd at 10:59 AM on June 13 [16 favorites]


Short-sighted, selfish, stupid fucking people. I don't care how big a payday it nets them; how someone can kill a magnificent beast like that and still face themselves in the mirror the next morning is completely beyond me.

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posted by mstokes650 at 11:01 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Oh, no. :( How did the poachers get away with it? Is this another lapse by their wildlife services? Our wildlife services are like the drug addicts who are the most difficult to help, those in denial that there is a problem to be fixed.

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posted by quiet earth at 11:02 AM on June 13


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posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:02 AM on June 13


Human extinction cannot come fast enough.
posted by peripathetic at 11:02 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


This is heartbreaking.

When I think about why I'm so mightily sick of religion and other folk-beliefs, environmental consequences are near the top of the list. Whether it's the belief that ingesting pointy animal bits makes your dick hard or that we're all going to be spirited away for final judgement so it doesn't matter how much we pollute the planet (or that the rest of the world was created for us to use up or whatever the justification of irresponsibility is...). There is no way to combat the root cause, people are insane in this way by default and hugely resistant to change.
posted by maxwelton at 11:02 AM on June 13 [13 favorites]


Wildlife managers with security experience who are operating on the ground have seen an evolution of activity that, combined with specific indicators, represents a credible and increasing threat that Al Shabaab in East Africa is gaining financial support through trading in illegal ivory. Source
posted by infini at 11:05 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Goddamnit
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:06 AM on June 13


°j°m

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posted by Fizz at 11:10 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


how someone can kill a magnificent beast like that and still face themselves in the mirror the next morning is completely beyond me

They or their kids are hungry, sick, poor, or some or all of the above. These poachers get a lot of shit from people in the West but digging up the tar sands in Canada will be a hell of a lot worse for the planet than even the entire extinction of elephants in Africa.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:11 AM on June 13 [14 favorites]


These poachers get a lot of shit from people in the West but digging up the tar sands in Canada will be a hell of a lot worse for the planet than even the entire extinction of elephants in Africa.

Luckily we don't have to choose. You can oppose both, and the fact that tar sands are being dug up in Canada doesn't mean we have to hold off on saving elephants in Africa.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:13 AM on June 13 [35 favorites]


But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. (Somehow it always seems worse to kill a large animal.)

Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell
posted by chavenet at 11:14 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by Kitteh at 11:17 AM on June 13


In China (the main destination for elephant ivory), each tusk will sell for around $20,000 if my research is right, and assuming the butchers didn't mangle them during removal. The marketeer will have paid about $10,000 for it, the smuggler $5000, the man-on-the-ground about $1000 to the man who paid the hunters $100 each to do the deed. This is why we can't have nice things, or endangered animals in the wild.
posted by Blackanvil at 11:18 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Between this and a picture (I wouldn't read the article) of the whale harvest in Japan I'm pretty much sick and fucking tired of the human race. We deserve every single bad thing that happens to us.
posted by tommasz at 11:18 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


What do they need the ivory for? So they can carve up some shitty little knick knacks to sell? Medicine? Is it purely for profit or do they really revere and covet these ivory goods?
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:22 AM on June 13


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posted by supermassive at 11:25 AM on June 13


My understanding is the ivory is used for TCM and other superstitious treatments for ailments. So the whole thing is really completely pointless.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 11:26 AM on June 13


digging up the tar sands in Canada will be a hell of a lot worse for the planet than even the entire extinction of elephants in Africa.

Yeah, but I know how those oil company folks look themselves in the mirror the next day: Sheer, willful denial. There's a lot more immediacy to killing an elephant; I don't see how you can kill an elephant and then deny you're part of the elephant-killing problem, or that there is an elephant killing problem.

And yeah, they poachers are probably poor and desperate, but they're also immersed in this: "The grief in Kenya at the slaughter of our iconic elephants is translating into floods of tears, emotional poems, and outrage on Twitter and Facebook. " You'd think that would have some kind of an impact on them, no matter how poor and desperate they are - their country is grieving and it's their fault.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:27 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by seyirci at 11:30 AM on June 13


As sad as this is, and as much as it needs to stop, it kind of disturbs me that whenever a poaching article pops up on Reddit, everybody is like "YEAH, KILL THOSE MOTHERFUCKING POACHERS! I'D SHOOT THEM RIGHT IN THE HEAD!!" I mean, whether these are poor folks trying to get by or even rich organized criminals, that's just... I dunno. Really doesn't feel right, and yet it seems that many people my age would be happy to see these guys shot dead without a second thought.
posted by archagon at 11:32 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


You'd think that would have some kind of an impact on them, no matter how poor and desperate they are - their country is grieving and it's their fault.

Why would you think that ? These fucks destroyed stuff just for grins - there wasn't even a profit motive.

Some people's kids, man.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:33 AM on June 13


"Elephants do not belong to KWS but to the people of Kenya."

Maybe they don't belong to anybody?

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posted by crazylegs at 11:36 AM on June 13 [12 favorites]


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posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:37 AM on June 13


Yeah, but I know how those oil company folks look themselves in the mirror the next day: Sheer, willful denial

Maybe the execs. Many of the guys working out there came all the way to Alberta from all across the country, many from the Maritimes where unemployment is often around twice the national average, lured by the promise of a payday that would let them put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

People will do a lot of things they might not agree with in order to make a living. I'm in insurance, for fuck's sake.
posted by Hoopo at 11:43 AM on June 13 [21 favorites]


They or their kids are hungry, sick, poor, or some or all of the above. These poachers get a lot of shit from people in the West but digging up the tar sands in Canada will be a hell of a lot worse for the planet than even the entire extinction of elephants in Africa.

I was going to say the same thing, Aizkolari.

I'm sitting here with the a/c on right now. The difference for me is: comfortable vs. even more comfortable...and half the time I still give in.

If the difference were: my family and I live in soul-crushing poverty vs. we live in a rather more tolerable state of poverty...

Well, I don't have a lot of faith in myself under those conditions.

It doesn't mean that this is any less sad. But it helps, as we say, put things in perspective
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:48 AM on June 13


To give a little more context about who is actually poaching (and benefitting from the poaching...)
Illegal wildlife trade, driven by high profit margins and aided by poor governance and weak law enforcement efforts, has boomed, just as other Chinese investments in Africa have grown increasingly active. Wildlife agents, customs officials, and government leaders are being paid off by what is viewed as a well-organized mafia moving animal parts from Africa to Asia. Toothless laws, corruption, weak judicial systems, and light punishments allow criminal networks to thrive on wildlife trade with little regard to risk or consequence.

The extreme poverty of many African communities induces their complicity in African-based, Asian-run poaching networks. 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.

Part of the reason poaching rates have skyrocketed in recent years is the increasing involvement of highly organized criminal syndicates. Organized crime has led to the militarization of poaching operations and leaves African park rangers chronically outgunned by well-armed and well-financed poachers.

Ivory and rhino horn are gaining popularity as a source of income for some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including Somalia’s al-Shabab, the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.), and Darfur's janjaweed. Illegal wildlife products are a substantial lifeline to African-based terrorism. These groups, which are systematically exploiting porous borders and weak governance and hindering sustainable economic activities, have the potential to set back African development by decades and create large swaths of ungovernable land, and new hotbeds for terrorist cells.
It is significantly more complicated than "those poor Africans who have no other choice," and also more than just "terrible organized crime." You can trace the money to Asian markets; you can trace the money to Kony; you can trace the money to religious groups. It's not Kenyans or Cameroonians robbing themselves of their national heritage, it's a global chain profiting from the economic realities of wildlife conservation (and helping to destabilize a very profitable local economy - who's going to go on safari when there are no more elephants or rhinoceros? And who's going to protect the lions when there are fewer tourists? And what's going to happen to the ecosystems when they're stripped of large herbivores?).
posted by ChuraChura at 11:50 AM on June 13 [25 favorites]


Kenya’s biggest elephant killed by poachers

boy it would be justice to have that reversed:

Kenya’s biggest poachers killed by elephant
posted by chavenet at 11:53 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I wish an all out war against poachers would work. I definitely am for assassination on the spot. Fuck them and their kind. Fuck the people whose superstition beliefs continue this trade. Fuck the rich assholes who think ivory and gatorskin and what the fuck else is something to have. Fuck hunters who think "big game" is a legitimate sport (yes, that's a side point, but it's related in the terms of our overall attitudes towards wildlife, towards ecological continuity, towards the environment)...

Seriously, fuck poacher, I have nothing but hate and disdain for them. I don't give a fuck if you give me the "exigent circumstances" spiel. Plenty of people live in conditions like that and don't murder innocent animals. If you gave a shit about exigent circumstances, maybe you'd stop your colonialist appropriations of the native resources of Africa (and the slave labor that goes into it). And I'm guilty - I drink Kenyan coffee, sometimes. I'm sure I use rare earth minerals that were mined in horrendous conditions. None of us are guilt free when it comes to the plundering of Africa's resources, but there's something about poaching that goes above and beyond... Maybe the fact that we're going through a great extinction event right now.

It just fucking boggles my mind to see the rapid decline of Orangutans, Gorillas, Elephants, Rhinos and more... Creatures who we thought were such powerful and solid beings who just Platonically ARE... But they are not, they live as mortal entities, and they have populations that have fortunes that come and go, some are more controllable than others. When I was a child, it would have never crossed my mind to think "oh, Elephants are about died out... No more Tigers... Rhinos? Gone..." It just never would have been a thought that these magnificent creatures in these books I was read to as a child are on the verge of complete extinction from this planet.

Seriously: Fuck Poachers.
posted by symbioid at 11:56 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


this is a damn shame. if they're SERIOUS about stopping poaching, they'll make an example of several poachers, on tv where all the others can see it. my version would involve ropes, swords and electricity.

the noble elephant, about which we are STILL learning new things, has its back to the wall now, i don't know if it can survive entirely in zoos, and serious measures are necessary if we want to save it.
posted by bruce at 11:57 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I don't have much sympathy for poachers, but you remove one, two will step in to take their place. You have to go along the supply line, right up to the purchaser, and you have to end it there. Every step of the way must be policed, and the punishments must be severe enough that it causes the infrastructure to collapse and nobody else wishes to step in to take the place.

It would take international cooperation and an enormous amount of policework, as well as a massive commitment of resources. But it's how we went after terrorism, and perhaps preventing the extinction of an entire species is worth taking as seriously.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:00 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


Sorry Bunny Ultramod, the life of a couple thousand Americans is waaaaaaaaaaay more important the entire extinction of Elephants.

(except for that terrorism connection, which is a shame that's the only way we can convince certain members of our leadership and voting public to do anything about it)
posted by symbioid at 12:03 PM on June 13


It's not just punishment; you have to provide alternate methods of supporting the poachers families. The societal pressures that force people into hunting giant elephants armed with a bow and arrow are not solved by merely decapitating somebody in a football stadium.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:07 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Dude. Kenyan coffee has so little to do with increasing elephant and rhino poaching, it's crazy. And it's not a particularly good example of really exploitative practices on the continent, either. Something like 70% of Kenyan coffee is grown by small scale farmers in cooperatives; the industry employs a significant number of people who would otherwise be jobless, and is a steady exporter and major earner in the Kenyan economy. In fact, you should probably keep drinking Kenyan coffee! You were right about those rare earth metals, though - smart phones, laptops and other personal electronics use components like coltan are mined in protected areas which has direct consequences on endangered populations of (for example) gorillas and forest elephants. Going easy on cell phone upgrades will probably do a lot more towards conservation efforts than skipping out on your Kenyan coffee or whatever.

At this point in time, you will basically not find anyone shooting elephants with a bow and arrow - the people killing elephants and rhinos are working in very sophisticated, often para-military organizations (and who's decapitating people in a football stadium?). Part of the problem with discussions like this is that very few of us actually have an idea what we're talking about. I'm certainly not up to date on what's going on with poaching in East Africa, but the men who were poaching the primates, duikers, pangolins, etc. in the forest I was working with were using snares and guns and taking advantage of civil unrest and changes in the priorities of the Ivorian government.

As far as I can tell, embracing good governance, increasing economic stakes in conservation, and changing the demand for poached animals is what is going to have an effect. Rather than put together strawstereotypes of a group of corrupt wildlife officials, apathetic local populations, and hopelessly unsophisticated poachers, we should start tackling practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, supporting and funding underfunded and beleaguered park rangers against well-funded paramilitary groups, and examine our own patterns of consumption so that we contribute as little as possible to the ongoing problems.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:13 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


I totally get the anger towards the poachers, but as long as the Chinese are willing to pay those prices the invisible hand of the market will get elephants murdered. It seems prohibitively expensive to address the issue at the supply end rather than the demand side. What is the Chinese government doing, and what could they do if they wanted to effectually curtail the illegal ivory business? While the Chinese won't flinch from sending a message with a few high profile executions, I doubt that killing people (something that already happens on the supply side) is going to solve the problem.
posted by delegeferenda at 12:15 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


We need some bioengineers to start growing Ivory in the lab, and flood the market with cheap Ivory identical to wild ivory so that all of the poachers are run out of business.
posted by overhauser at 12:22 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


The EXTREME CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS WITH DOUBLE PUBLIC TORTURE that some seem to be calling for are routine in parts of Africa. I doubt they are going to change anything, even if some persons designated 'POACHER' are so dealt with. This would just be one more atrocity on the pile, and I would prefer not to answer one atrocious misdeed with another.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 12:23 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


I highly recommend Dr Kahumbu on twitter.
posted by infini at 12:26 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it would be as simple as an anti-ivory campaign in China to stop (or lessen) demand for ivory. I know Yao Ming has publicly taken an anti-ivory stance.
posted by whistle pig at 12:28 PM on June 13


We need some bioengineers to start growing Ivory in the lab, and flood the market with cheap Ivory identical to wild ivory so that all of the poachers are run out of business.

I've wondered about this, too. Ivory doesn't strike me as something you couldn't make a reasonable synthetic version of, if it's an aesthetic thing. But I think it comes down to the same thing as diamonds vs cubic zirconia in the end. People want the real deal just because it's the real deal.
posted by Hoopo at 12:30 PM on June 13


I think this is awful, and poaching seems to be a very difficult problem to tackle. One thing that is increasingly bugging me, though, is the frequency of people saying/writing stuff like "...rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods..." I think it is totally legit to point out China as a/the major market for poached animal products, and the demand driven by traditional Chinese quackery. On the other hand, throwing in irrelevant mentions of China/Chinese seems pretty xenophobic to me. I bet inexpensive GPS units are also helping make park rangers more effective. If poachers were using iPhones, I doubt the article would describe them as California-designed smartphones. Assign blame where blame is due, but using Chinese to imply evil undermines arguments about legitimate issues with China.
posted by snofoam at 12:34 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


From what I recall from the great, but now pay-to-read article about the epidemic of rhino horn thefts from museums, demand for them waned considerably for a while, then grew again due to demand from Vietnam. Educate one country, and another will take up the superstitions.

As sad and tragic as the certainty of the extinction may be, it isn't something one can fix from an armchair. But humans being what they are, you have to reduce demand through education, and remove the economic motive from the poachers. Though how do you pay the poachers not to kill these animals?

Africa is a huge place, with many countries and troubled history. People in the western world shout about how they'd like to personally put the poachers to death, but that is both as impotent a solution as the nothing they are already doing, and wrong for playing into the brutal history of the western world feeling like it owns Africa.
posted by Catblack at 12:47 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


"Mass produced Chinese goods" has less of an evil implication here, I'm guessing, than you imagine. Equipment such as this would have been impossible to find or afford if it weren't the flood of cheap Chinese goods arriving on the shores of the region. I've looked into the distribution and sales of how exactly a cheap China made DVD player ends up in rural markets when fancily funded Western companies struggle to reach the same target audience with their better designed solar lamps (or whathaveyou). This does not reflect badly on Chinese manufacturers who have figured out how to tap into the informal trade networks while western companies wait for retail channels they're familiar with such as supermarkets or Best Buy.

Very little to do with poaching and evil per se and everything to do with knowing how to do business in this market.

So they become highly visible "oh the cheap Chinese stuff" because that's all you can see in the remotest livestock fair... and thus, it makes them easily accessible to anyone, even the poor starving poachers everyone's referring to in this thread.
posted by infini at 12:50 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


"We need some bioengineers to start growing Ivory in the lab, and flood the market with cheap Ivory identical to wild ivory so that all of the poachers are run out of business."

There's plenty of alternatives to elephant ivory -- mammoth and mastadon (already extinct), boar ivory, a number of plastics and ceramics, tagua nut, and composites. Not to mention the also-illegal walrus, whale, and other marine mammal ivory. Anyone who wants an ivory-like material can get it at a number of price points -- I have some mammoth and mastadon ivory kicking around the workshop I'll use someday when I find a knife for them. It's just teeth, there's a lot of non-endangered critters with big teeth out there.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:13 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


You definitely have a good point, infini, and I probably should have mentioned that I don't think the author of the blog post where the quote was taken was necessarily deliberately using Chinese negatively.

At the same time, once I started noticing how often people use China/Chinese with no actual reason, it started to really stick out to me. Your point about Chinese brands is totally interesting, but was not referenced by the original author. Most Western brands are also mass-produced in China.

To me, it would be much more effective if people addressed why they are specifying China/Chinese. If one doesn't want a Chinese transshipment port built in the Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica, then one should explain why a Chinese built/operated port is worse than one operated by a consortium from another country, etc.

Poaching will continue as long as the market for these products exist, and China bears a huge share of the blame for that. But Chinese shouldn't be a negative adjective that gets thrown in willy-nilly all over.
posted by snofoam at 1:17 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Seems like a perfect environment for high altitude drone surveillance - or, tracking tagged elephants with smaller drones with infrared night photo capabilities. Why not do that and as soon as outliers are seen approaching an elephant send a warning of some kind. It appears that the poachers wait until they are unseen. Keep them visible: light them up.

In addition, where is China in all this? Why isn't China coming down HARD on the ivory trade? The proliferation of Asian (mostly Chinese) presence in Africa is for sure enabling this slaughter, most likely with the collaboration of some corrupt local officials. Find the latter and shame them (for starters).
posted by Vibrissae at 1:34 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


But Chinese shouldn't be a negative adjective that gets thrown in willy-nilly all over.

I think that mainstream media and the whole "OMG China is taking over Africa" narratives in the English language/Anglo internet has influenced the negative perception. You make a valid point though that we need to stop repeating the "cheap Chinese goods" phrase as it perpetuates the negativity when in fact they're actually making consumer electronics affordable to a market which never had the opportunity to avail of them.

In addition, where is China in all this? Why isn't China coming down HARD on the ivory trade?

I think they're realizing they have to, if they want to keep on doing business with "The Second Continent" viz.,

China, Africa to work together against illegal ivory trade

China, Africa Arrest Cross-Border Ivory Smuggler

Who are the Chinese smuggling ivory out of Africa and how are they doing it? Huang Hongxiang went to Mozambique to investigate

Huang Hongxian's opinion on how to stop the trade:

“You can’t change them by moral appeal,” a Chinese resident in Africa told me, those ‘blood-ivory campaigns’ are not going to work.

Somehow it is true. It is not accurate that Chinese people are all unconcerned about the disappearance of Africa’s elephants. However, when we consider Chinese education, it is those relatively affluent who have the most awareness on the issue while the vast majority of Chinese migrants in Africa are generally lower-class, less well educated. Given how difficult life is for many Chinese migrants in Africa, there’s now a widely-held perception that only the poor and desperate leave China and “if you have choices, you don’t come to Africa.”

There are basically two groups of Chinese people in Africa: the self-driven small businessmen — most who do not speak English and possess only a primary-school level education. The second group often work for Chinese state owned enterprises (SOESs). This group tends to be much better educated than their working-class compatriots.

This composition of these two groups of Chinese migrants is the key to understanding the booming ivory trade in Africa. First, as not highly educated Chinese, this group has relatively low awareness about conservation; second, those Chinese who would come to Africa have their sole goal in minds: to make as much money in as short time as possible, therefore they are very active in seeking personal gains from the time in a place that many do not actually like.

So now that we recognize the problem, what can we do?


For the first time, journalists from mainland China worked with African journalists on an undercover investigation into the Chinese connection with ivory and rhino horns market in South Africa and Mozambique
posted by infini at 1:52 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


symbioid: "Sorry Bunny Ultramod, the life of a couple thousand Americans is waaaaaaaaaaay more important the entire extinction of Elephants."

No. No, it is not. At some point we have to stop privileging human life above all others on the planet. And I say this as someone with two children who would, yes, be driven berserk with agony at the thought of anything happening to them, and would probably compromise every principle I have to try to preserve them.

The thing is that I should not be permitted to do that. Because I am clearly not a rational actor.

This kind of thing happens for a very simple reason: capitalism is the largest, most powerful religion in the world, and it is so inconceivable to contemporary humans that anything should step in its way that we will invent literally almost any excuse to justify it.

If it's not "we can't do anything to stop it, so why bother", it's "that's just how the world works", or something else, on and on, ad nauseaum infinitum. And it will continue to be so until we stop giving the almighty dollar the most power of all idols in our worship.
posted by scrump at 2:07 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


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posted by brambleboy at 2:22 PM on June 13


I've watched elephants bathe in Africa. They are playful and exude such joy, rolling in the mud and showering themselves and others. It is awful that we are giving them good reason to live their lives in fear.
posted by mantecol at 2:51 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


A few pointers to an ongoing debate about the ethics and pragmatics of legal trade in ivory, rhino horn and tiger products:

SCIENTISTS CALL FOR LEGAL TRADE IN RHINO HORN [PDF]

A précis of a debate held at the Royal Geographical Society

Both are from last year.
posted by cromagnon at 3:05 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Reading along, my reaction was, "Why does he think the elephant knows they want his tusks?" and then it struck me, the elephant sees what they do to the faces of the fallen, he knows they always take the tusks.
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posted by Anitanola at 4:12 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Does anyone have an idea which organization it would be most productive to donate to specifically for the protection of elephants? I don't want a window sticker or a t-shirt or to pay for the private jet of some NGO president to fly around to state affairs and talk about how important it is to stop poaching over cognac and cigars, I want to buy fucking bullets and fuel and binoculars and tents and clothing for the actual anti-poaching efforts. Thoughts? (This might make a good AskMe, I suppose.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:40 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


art of the problem with discussions like this is that very few of us actually have an idea what we're talking about.

Yeah, this has been pretty painfully obvious based on the comments here.

For thoes asking how it could happen, Tsavo is a huge national park - Tsavo East and West together make for well over 21 000 square kilometres - over 2.1 million hectares. Yellowstone national park is 900k, Yosemite is 300k, Grand Canyon park is 500k. The two parks are bigger than that country of Israel, or El Salvador, or Slovenia. It is a big ass park and effectively policing it would be difficult-if-not-impossible in a Western country with shit-tonnes of money, no corruption, and very few desperate people. Kenya is not that country.

For those saying that the poachers should be shot etc - they are, on sight. KWS guards are typically armed with AK-47s or other rifles, and they are allowed to shoot on sight. The problem is that in the boundaries of these parks it is trivially easier for poaching games to avoid them, or outgun them - guards don't want to lay their lives on the line, and their salaries are pitifully low, so corruption is also an issue. give this damning piece publshed in nat geo a couple of years ago.

CITES approved the decision to re-open the market for ivory in China, with the craven, ignorant approval of their masters at the WWF. The basis for the decision? One, extraordinarily flawed program to count poached bodies, and comparing China to Japan - as if the two countries have anything in common for the purposes of selling ivory beyond being located in Asia. Once ivory hit the huge market in China, with a ballooning upper class of billionaires and millionaires, and became a prized status symbol much like jade, the result was inevitable. The market for ivory had completely died since the ban, and in just a couple of years it flared back up again bigger than ever.

The west didn't pull the trigger on elephants, no. But it bought the gun, loaded it up with bullets, passed it to someone with a criminal record for possessing and using illegal firearms, then put on a blindfold and blocked its ears for no good reason. We absolutely are culpable and I will never again support the WWF.
posted by smoke at 5:04 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


Wait, what? Don't doubt you smoke, but can you link some deets on the WWF's decision? That's disturbing news.
posted by notyou at 6:00 PM on June 13


lol, if you read the one link I posted in the comment, you will see all the detail you could want - the decision was made in 2008, fyi.
posted by smoke at 6:23 PM on June 13


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posted by allthinky at 7:19 PM on June 13


#NotAllHumans
posted by officer_fred at 10:27 PM on June 13


repeating a bit of smoke's post:
"CITES approved the decision to re-open the market for ivory in China, with the craven, ignorant approval of their masters at the WWF. The basis for the decision? One, extraordinarily flawed program to count poached bodies, and comparing China to Japan - as if the two countries have anything in common for the purposes of selling ivory beyond being located in Asia. Once ivory hit the huge market in China, with a ballooning upper class of billionaires and millionaires, and became a prized status symbol much like jade, the result was inevitable. The market for ivory had completely died since the ban, and in just a couple of years it flared back up again bigger than ever.

"The west didn't pull the trigger on elephants, no. But it bought the gun, loaded it up with bullets, passed it to someone with a criminal record for possessing and using illegal firearms, then put on a blindfold and blocked its ears for no good reason. We absolutely are culpable and I will never again support the WWF."


Here's s Der Spiegel expose' on WWF


also: from (Wikipedia: Ivory Trade)
"To many conservationists with knowledge of China and its failure to control trade in tiger parts, bear parts, rhinoceros horn and a range of endangered and vulnerable CITES listed species, it seemed unlikely that China would be given "buyer approved" status for ivory. This is because that status would be based on China's ability to regulate and control its trade.[5] To demonstrate the lack of ivory controls in China, the EIA leaked an internal Chinese document showing how 121 tonnes of ivory from its own official stockpile, (equivalent to the tusks from 11,000 elephants), could not be accounted for, a Chinese official admitting "this suggests a large amount of illegal sale of the ivory stockpile has taken place."[15][38][39] However, a CITES mission recommended that CITES approve China's request, and this was supported by WWF and TRAFFIC.[40] China gained its "approved" status at a meeting of the CITES Standing Committee on 15 July 2008.[41][42]"
posted by Vibrissae at 10:31 PM on June 13


Vibrissae, I think this is the article you meant to link to.
posted by Magnakai at 1:41 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


In moments like this, I hate humans.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:20 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


So sad.

Despite horrid odds there are groups fighting the good fight. Elephant Nature Park in Thailand in one: giving animals a sanctuary in which to recover. They post some pretty emotional videos of animals relaxing. I love this one where a woman sings a lullaby.
posted by dog food sugar at 11:49 AM on June 14


An Elephant Researcher Mourns An Elephant Lost to Poachers
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on June 14


The elephant report for the upcoming 65th CITES meeting in July.

[PDF] [jargon warning - controlled delivery = a sting in which a shipment is detected at a port or airport and allowed to go on its way to identify the next handler, rather than immediately arresting the bearer.]
posted by cromagnon at 1:50 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


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