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The Surge In African Elephant Slaughter

The kill-off of elephants is getting worse.  Humans are wiping them off the face of the earth, and scientists say the elephants know it.

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, elephants run towards water to drink and bathe at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, elephants run towards water to drink and bathe at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)

Elephants appear to be not just grand but wise.  Smart.  Knowing.  And right now they appear to know what the world is just not getting, despite all the bloody evidence:  the elephants of Africa are being slaughtered on an epic scale.

A huge new study finds sixty-two percent vanished from the forests of Central Africa in the last decade.  New industrial-strength poaching.  Heavily-armed gangs mowing down and butchering these great, iconic, intelligent creatures for tusks and trinkets on an epic scale.

This hour, On Point:  elephant genocide, and maybe – in our time – the end of elephants.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Samantha Strindberg, biostatistician for the Wildlife Conservation Society and one of the co-authors of the newly-released study “Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa” in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

Bryan Christy, contributing writer for National Geographic.  He spent more than two years investigating the international ivory trade and the surge in poaching, and his story “Blood Ivory” appeared in the October issue of National Geographic. (@bryanchristy)

Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Near East, South Asia, and Africa Branch in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of International Conservation.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “There is nothing a mother elephant will not do for her infant, but even she cannot protect it from bullets. About a year ago, poachers attacked a family of forest elephants in central Africa. The biologist who witnessed the attack told us that wildlife guards were completely outgunned. In the end, an elephant mother, riddled with bullets and trumpeting with pain and fear, was left to use her enormous body to shield her baby. Her sacrifice was for naught; the baby was also killed.”

Reuters “More African elephants are being illegally slaughtered for their ivory than are being born each year with organized criminal gangs cashing in on runaway poaching which could soon threaten populations in some regions, a report said on Wednesday.”

CBS News “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on world leaders to stop the epic slaughter of African elephants, a wildlife crisis that could lead to the extinction of the Sub-Saharan species. CBS News went to Kenya last week, where every year 25,000 elephants are being killed by poachers. Their tusks are sold for thousands of dollars, often to wealthy Chinese customers who prize ornate ivory carvings.”

Undercover Investigation Video

National Geographic undercover investigation into elephant poaching and ivory smuggling.

WARNING: There are some very grisly images in this video.

Yao Ming PSA

National Geographic’s “how to help” page

 

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  • ToyYoda

    Elephants are amazing.  In a book I read, when an elephant dies, it’s quite common for the other elephants in the herd to stand guard around the corpse for days.  And when the carcass turns into a skeleton, often the same herd will come back and caress the same skeleton.   The elephants that do it longer are usually direct descendants of the dead elephant.

    In one story, game wardens took the skeleton of one carcass and moved them.  The dead elephant’s herd took the moved bones and placed them back to the site of death.

    Incredible.  It’s hard not to anthropomorphize this behavior.   If you have the time, I definitely recommend reading a book on these amazing creatures.

    • http://twitter.com/Dragonsong73 Eric R. Duncan

      I am OK with saying we are not anthropomorphizing these sorts of behaviors with a species that passes the Rouge Test and develops it’s own “play”.

      But I am also in favor of “earthling-hood” for elephants dolphins and great apes.

  • Bluejay2fly

    If I were 18 I would give a year of my life to sit in the Savanna and protect animals. That would be a very practical and humane use for our military.

  • ToyYoda

    We should use drones to track poachers.

    • John_in_Amherst

      If poachers lacked a market poaching would stop. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

        Yes, but they don’t. Lack a market that is, so then what? Shouldn’t this problem be approached from every direction? Go after the poachers, the carvers, and the buyers? And, aren’t there surveillance drones that could track the poachers down simply to assist in finding them? I can’t imagine anyone would seriously suggest in killing them with drones.      

        • John_in_Amherst

           I agree.  go at this from a variety of angles. 

  • Shag_Wevera

    Better get a good genetic pool in zoos across the world.  In a largely lawless continent it is amazing that there are any left in the first place.

    Fear not for Africa though.  It’s salvation coming in the form of global corporatization once Chinese and Indians begin to demand higher wages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lars.grantwest Lars Grant-West

    It’s criminal that countries in asia have opened up trading in elephant products. The fewer there are, the more valuable a commodity their parts become. 
    If there’s a war to be waged, it’s here. No mercy for those killing these incredible creatures.

  • Tracy Staedter

    I just saw this news this morning about 89 more dead elephants in Chad. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/poachers-massacre-89-elephants-chad-wwf-163150733.html#bElXLql And the rhino is no better off. These magnificent creatures will be gone in our lifetime. The right people don’t care. 

  • Jim

    Suppliers in China who are responsible for killing these magnificent creatures should be ashamed ashamed of themselves. If they really want ivory I suggest they look nowhere but their own teeth. 

    I can sadly say these creature will inevitably face extinction, unless international law similar to the protection of the right whale is imposed. i don’t even know if tough restriction in Africa will prevent these genocide.

  • John_in_Amherst

    Heart-wrenching.  How can we help the Chinese understand it must stop??

    • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

      Have you ever heard how little consideration the Chinese government has for it’s own human citizens? Have you ever seen their dog-meat market and how they allow torture of domesticated dogs, in the belief that it causes the meat to taste better, before roasting or boiling it alive? It may or may not be legal, I don’t know, but if against the law, it is not a law that is enforced. So I have big doubts that China cares about the elephant’s demise or what we think of their participation in the illegal and violent poaching of ivory. The fact that elephants are intelligent…does anyone really believe they care, especially where monetary profits are involved?    

      • John_in_Amherst

         OK, I get the idea that you believe the Chinese are inhuman and incapable of change.  I do not share this view.  As a student of Chinese culture, I am aware that dog is on the menu in some places, though your idea about the prep is new to me.  While I fact-check, you may want to look into US factory farming of pigs (also intelligent and sensitive creatures), cows and chickens.  Two wrongs (or three or more) do not make a right.  Throwing up your hands and feigning disgust is not a solution.

        • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

          I certainly do not think that the Chinese are not human! I do believe it is inhumane to pack dogs into crates so they can’t move, and worse. Please fact check. Have I heard of US factory farming atrocities. I am so weary of reading about it, signing petitions, writing letters to legislators, the president, etc. I do not throw up my hands, my conscience won’t allow it. I think what I’ve seen dogs put through in Asian countries abhorrent. Likewise, I’m equally appalled at what I’ve witnessed in American corporate and some backyard slaughter houses. These things are against the law, but often not enforced in many countries. I will not be satisfied until I see such treatment of any animal stopped. 

          It’s curious that all of the times I’ve spoken out against animal abuses in United States, and there have been many, no one says anything in defense. However, if I speak out against the same sort of abuses, in the same tone, criticizing people in any other country, I sometimes get accused of unfair prejudice. I’m truly sorry for that, animal abuse is very upsetting to me, and it’s difficult not to be angry. I cannot understand why people cannot see the act of abuse as the wrong, rather than wanting to shoot the messenger, as it were.      

        • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

          Might I add, I said the Chinese government, not the Chinese. I think the government’s track record speaks for itself. There are many rights that their people are not afforded, if I am to believe what I’ve heard various Chinese say when interviewed. Also, when I referred to the cruelties in the dog meat trade, I am talking about the particular people involved in that behavior. The same applies to the brutal and immoral backyard slaughter farms in America at which I have seen undercover videos of. I am speaking of those that participate in that activity, not the organic farmer that I speak to that raises his animals in comfort and tries to kill them swiftly and “humanely.” 
          Am I not making myself clear?

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Perhaps I am a hypocrite because I eat meat, but it amazes me that someone could kill such a magnificent, intelligent animal just to get its tusks.  People who could do such a thing should receive the death penalty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      correct you are a hipocrate an elephant is a big cow with horns instead of tusks. what is the difference between the majesty of a cow and a elephant?  have you ever harvested the meat you eat yourself?
      i do not in any support poachers but it is a little hipocritical to say one mammal is somehow more special than another

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

      The atrocities committed against elephants is very sad indeed and I am completely in favor of putting a stop to this barbaric attack on such beautiful and intelligent creatures. They are not the only animals being violently exploited by China and other Asian countries, by European countries, and, yes, the United States, as well as everywhere man exists. What gives humans the idea that they have the right to exploit animals in whatever way they see fit? I do read more articles, see more videos, and see more pictures of sadistic and violent torture of animals in China, South Korea, and Viet Nam than any other regions of the world, even though it is shockingly widespread. 
      Animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation. Someone put it very well when they stated, “When deciding on a being’s rights – the question is not- can they reason, can they talk, but “Can they suffer?” Suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher math. ALL animals have the ability to suffer in the same way humans do. They feel contentment and comfort, therefore, they are able to feel frustration, sadness, grief, fear, terror and pain. Animals have rights totally separate from their usefulness to humans. All animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation. 
      

    • John_in_Amherst

       I sympathize with your views.  While you’re at it, how about a word on cultures closer to home where bull-, dog-  and cock-fighting are regarded as sport. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        i am just going to assume that you are vegans

        • John_in_Amherst

           bad assumption.  I do eat meat, and have hunted for it.  Man, after all, is THE top predator on the planet.  We are also intelligent and/or spiritually “in touch” enough to realize we owe our prey a quick death, painless as possible, at the end of a decent life.  And, Futo, if the elephant bodies left by poachers fed more than maggots after they were slaughtered for the sake of trinkets to glorify the vanity of rich Chinese, they might be more comparable to cows.  What is your point? 

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            i was genuinly curious. most americans have never had to hunt their own meat. i think the experience is priceless and every meat eater should have to do it.  I am 100% anti poaching for any thing.   

          • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

            I am vegan! 

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            then i applaud your philosophical consistancy

          • John_in_Amherst

            -

          • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

            I am vegan, but have more respect for people that hunt (without a pack of dogs & radios) for their meat than buying it at the market. I am actively against corporate meat “farms.” What I’ve learned in the past few months about the animal abuses that go on there are so much more than sickening. Not to mention the quality of meat. People would be shocked to know what they consume. Anyhow, I appreciate that you feel you owe the prey a quick painless death. That’s the least we can do. That’s something I always “used” to assume happened to the farm animals before they were meat at the markets.

          • John_in_Amherst

             I haven’t personally killed a mammal and eaten it in a couple decades. 
            (fish & shell fish is another matter)  The red meat I consume a time
            or two a week comes from the animal friendly trays at Wholefoods.  Same for the chicken. I always hope they respect the animals more than conventional factory farms, but I still wonder: Bad
            Karma?

    • Wotan

      “I do read more articles, see more videos, and see more pictures of sadistic and violent torture of animals in China, South Korea, and Viet Nam than any other regions of the world, even though it is shockingly widespread. ”

      What the hell!

      First and foremost, elephants along with whales and dogs have been my favorite animals ever since I was a small kid. Thus, the senseless slaughter of elephants in particular have caused a great deal of personal anger for me. As someone who was also born in South Korea, however, reading baseless assertions like the above make me angrier still.

      I can trace my lineage back to circa 230 A.D. and can look up every single person in my family tree. Thus, we also have relics and family treasures that date back and reflect this history. None involve ivory or whale bones or any such thing. I’ve never had anything associated with rhinos or bears and this is the case with most all the South Koreans that I know. 

      My dad was part of a group that killed a tiger when he was on tour in Vietnam during the war. The locals there rewarded him with a ceremonial tribal crossbow because this tiger was a maneater and had ravaged surrounding villages. The skin was sent back  to the then president of Korea as a present. That’s about the extent of my family’s “sadistic and violent” torture of animals.

      Rather than falsely implicating the wrong nationals, it’s better to keep in mind that in the US, we slaughter something like nine BILLION animals each year. And on the issue of preservation of big game, rather than blaming the South Koreans, it’s better to illustrate the following:

      “British tourists are fuelling a booming industry reliant on the slaughter of thousands of lions and other exotic animals by travelling to Africa to hunt semi-tame big game….

      The Independent was offered the opportunity to shoot and kill all of the big five game animals – elephants, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion – within minutes of contacting ranch owners. One even indicated he could arrange a hunt using fox hounds to chase down lynx.

      Campaigners say the most sought-after trophies are the heads and feet cut from dead lions, leopards, wild dogs and elephants. But as competition grows, commercial hunts are offering increasingly exotic prey, introducing tiger, jaguar, puma and grey wolves, according to new evidence from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).”

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/british-tourists-fuel-africas-cruel-trade-in-canned-hunting-472249.html

      • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

        Wotan, my point was that it is equally sad when any and all animals are abused and exploited. My heart goes out for these beautiful elephants. However, it is frustrating to me when I have been viewing abused animals suffering at the hands of humans for months now, and little attention is paid to these other animals also deserve to live their lives free from the barbaric cruelty with which man has treated them. 

        The program was specifically pointing out that the ivory poaching business is backed by China. All I’m saying is, while that may be true, and I have seen many abuses in Asian countries, it is also widespread in many other countries. Did you not read that I included United States in the violent exploitation of innocent animals? 

        Instead of attacking what you perceive as nationalistic prejudices in me, I wish you would agree that all cruel exploitation of animals need to stop and that we should work to make such atrocities unacceptable in any culture. You have no idea how many letters I’ve written, how many petitions I have signed, to move in that direction. When I read of these exploitations, I can honestly say that never once have I been angered by the accusation that United States has been a main offender in such appalling activities, except to be angry at the people that are responsible. I have written letters to the president, to my representatives, to the pope! Unfortunately this goes on, as I said, “wherever man exists.” So please, stop trying to make my concerns all about you and your people, and join me in trying to stop these abuses in any and every country where it is allowed to exist. 

        You have my hearty and sincere support to target as many American institutions that you wish, if it brings a stop to animal suffering…hooray! 

        • Wotan

          Be that as it may, I’ve also been a member of WWF for over 10 years and have also written letters. That’s actually all besides the point and to reiterate, take better care than carelessly implicating and accusing nationalities that have nothing to do with the subject of ivory trading and elephant extinction based on your ignorance and masked hubris which you’ve labored to frame as some pro-animal rights agenda. And I’m “attacking” you for this because it is what you wrote. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

            I repeat, the program was about the illegal ivory poaching which is backed by China. That wasn’t my idea, that’s what everyone was talking about. I do not need to labor to frame my point of view as pro-animal rights. I am pro animal’s rights and I don’t have ANY national agenda. I don’t care if it’s my country or anyone else’s. If they, as government or citizens, commit atrocities against animals or condone it, or merely allow it to happen, it upsets me and makes me angry. I will speak out against it, let chips fall where they may. Just because you’re super sensitive to any possible slight on your race, I am so very sorry that your sensitivities cause you to only see a self-perceived slight. I have ONE agenda, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, which, in this case, are the animals. I can’t worry about every person of every region that might misunderstand. Really, how can you care? Animals are being tortured and inhumanely kept and eventually brutally slaughtered! And your feelings are hurt? What does it mean to you when I get angry and lash out at those in my country, those in my state, my county, when I learn of abusive treatment of various animals? How do you choose to interpret that?      

  • John_in_Amherst

    Letter to the Chinese embassy:

    I would like to applaud your leaders’ recognition of the
    importance of cleaning up the environment.  I only wish the entire U.S.
    congress would do the same.

    However, the continuing trade in
    ivory is leading to the heart-wrenching slaughter of elephants.  This is
    primarily to supply status symbols for the growing numbers of middle
    and upper income Chinese who place a high value on this ancient
    commodity, while forgetting other traditional values your great culture
    has cherished for thousands of years.  Compassion toward all sentient
    beings and promoting wisdom and harmony in the interactions of man with
    the world we inhabit are treasures your culture has venerated from the
    beginnings of history.  The world stands to benefit tremendously through
    the cultivation of these values. 

    I am greatly heartened to see
    the strides your country has made in the last decades in promoting the
    prosperity of the Chinese people.  But PLEASE encourage them to
    celebrate their wealth in ways that will not purge the world of one of
    its most magnificent creatures.   In light of what we know about the
    intelligence and social conscience of elephants, art objects made from
    their teeth must be seen as shameful reminders of inhumane cruelty, not
    success.
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596015135 Praveen Misra

    This issue is upsetting me so much and a desire to do something about it. Not knowing what do to, I have made a pledge that i will boycott everything that is made in China if possible. I have found a site with some resource in my effort: http://www.shopnotmadeinchina.com/

    • stargazer3

      I will do the same thing. There is a store in Elma NY called Made in America. They have a limited amount of American made products but are expanding day by day. Thank you for the link.

      Here’s the link
      http://www.madeinamericastore.com

      900 Maple Road, Elma NY 14059
      (716)652-4872

  • creaker

    By-product of exploding middle class in countries like China – it’s made the ivory industry immensely profitable.

  • Jim

    i really feel sick and shock after listening the beginning part of the show indicating how ruthless and barbaric Chinese suppliers can be especially describing that a specific tusk was taken while the elephant was alive. This ivory trade must be outlawed at once including the Rhino slaughtering and the Shark killing.

    the ecological impact from the extinction of the elephant would devastate a large part of African forest. 

    Stop the killing…

  • afallach2

    We are ready to impose sanctions on the justification of human rights abuse. It is past time we did the same for animal rights where the animals are demonstrably self-aware or in danger of extinction. (I’d argue for even more severity and a broader definition of the animals, but I’m aiming for an essential minimum that most people might accept.)
       On top of sanctions against nations that condone traffic in animal products, the UN should take extreme measures, though I’m not prepared to suggest what those might be. Still, that organization MUST take drastic action.
       Beyond that: severe punishment, bordering on capital punishment, for the murder, especially the mass murder, of creatures like elephants, rhinos, great apes ….
       AND, not least, the punishment of those in possession of products made from these animals.
       I’ve always thought that ridicule is a powerful tool, too. The awareness campaign must promote the idea world-wide that the reverence for ivory idols, the use of rhino horn for impotency, tiger products, etc. etc. … are STUPID ACTS done by STUPID, BACKWARD PEOPLE.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    It is very hard to listen to this program and to realize than man can be so greedy and unfeeling to carry out this kind of massacre.  People who could do such a thing do not have the right to live.

  • jefe68

    This is horrific, and it speaks to the mindless slaughter that our species is capable of for profit. 

    This is on the Chinese. If there was no demand for ivory then there would be no reason to kill these intelligent creatures.
    It’s on them and all the other nations that trade in ivory.

    There should be a world boycot of all Chinese goods, of course this will never happen.

    • stargazer3

      How can we expect China to do the right thing when they treat their own citizens like dirt. If they don’t care about their own people, how can we expect them to give a damn about elephants? They bully and throw their own people in jail for no reason and tear down their villages to build a dam. And this is not just limited to China. We are all guilty. Most things we buy here in the States are from China. I will be going out of my way to look for products not made in China. So many of our American flags are even made there.
      These beautiful animals need help now. I know elephants are very intelligent so I pray that they know that not all humans are evil. I cried my eyes out at work today listening to this awful story. It upset my entire day but at the same time it energized me to start writing.

  • ElihuJ

    This genocide is a tragedy, and the people that do it do evil.

    Of course, they may not be evil people. Rather, they are driven to this desperate act – so contrary to the nature of any creature with any connection to its natal environment – by desperate poverty and lack of opportunity. And these, in turn, tie closely back to the suppression of family planning and the destruction of more sustainable lifestyles by other extractive industries. Both imports from the West, with benefit mainly to us…

    • New_Clear_Waste

      Not true! It is paternalistic to excuse violent crime (poaching) on the basis of poverty, simply because this is Africa. This is pure opportunistic self-enriching criminal activity, and there is no excuse!

      • ElihuJ

        I do not excuse – merely pointing out that native peoples managed to coexist with elephants until their lifestyles were disrupted by outsiders. It might be satisfying to gun down poachers, but their numbers and desperation are without limit. Helping to restore a viable society, with family planning, jobs, sustainable agriculture practices, and return of profits to locals – these could work.

        How desperate would you have to be to kill someone else’s prized pet for to feed your family? If your survival-constrained time horizon extended years or even months, rather than decades, how much would you care about ecology or the rights (as we perceive them) of other people, animals, the environment? We have not set a great example for these people.

        So-called “Spiral Dynamics” (q.v.) gives excellent insight into the choices made by various parties, and the (self-)deceptions involved in each case.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596015135 Praveen Misra

    Tom, can you please ask your guest what can be done? assuming china may not listen? is there need to be an “Army without borders”? matched in weaponry by individual donors and well wishers of animals?

  • Futureboy68

    A novel idea, how about using those drones from the first hour to protect the herds against the thug cartels providing illegal trade for the selfish, Chinese aristocracy. That would include taking out the gangs of thugs perpetrating this crime against nature. And while extracting their bones while still partially alive might be taking it too far for sensitive types here… an eye for an eye is the only justice worthy for such inhumane louts.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    No different than the American appetite for illegal S American drugs. The fingers point, but is the pot calling the kettle black, um, so to speak?

    • New_Clear_Waste

       So your idea for preserving elephants from extinction is…What?

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        Who knows? As the issue here is demand, with ivory addiction implied, be it industrial or otherwise, then the world should be convinced its appetite for ivory should be curbed or risk the extinction of yet another important species whose absence will greatly impact the biosphere of Africa. Using America’s “War on Drugs” as a yardstick for success, it’s probable that any such campaign as a “War on the Ivory Trade” ( or black market ) will fare similarly. Pot and cocaine use will only curbed when people reject its use. Same goes with any black market commodity.

    • Futureboy68

      Very different.
      Unless you somehow think that marijuana, coca plants, et al are on the verge of extinction and/or serve as a major influence and catalyst on the enviromental landscape of huge parts of a continent. 

      • TheDailyBuzzherd

        The point is clear and unambiguous. Americans love to promote global abstinence in a myriad of ways while continuing its own unique brand of hypocrisy. Obviously black market flora will never go “extinct” because plant life is vastly different from animal life and of course we like pot too much to ever allow that to happen. We’re “outraged” that the elephant faces extinction yet ignore the residual effects of our parlour pastimes, such as directly abetting cartels and gov’t instability. We have this nagging itch to try to effect change far from our shores yet take a pass on culpability in many evolving environmental issues … just look at Alberta, for example.

        Don’t get me wrong – it’s good we’re discussing this and we can pressure China and other countries to stop our taste for ivory. But we have much of our own house cleaning to do, especially in lofty, ill-prepared plans of “nation building” around the globe when we can’t even get our own gov’t to work well.

    • http://twitter.com/lemon9 lemon9

      I disagree  The illegal south American drugs don’t involve he slaughter of emotionally sentient, intelligent mammals by the thousands.  There is a difference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        wow so you don’t consider the 60,000 mexicans killed recently for our prohibition policy ” emotionally sentient, intelligent mammals “?

  • http://www.facebook.com/annie.m.baker.7 Annie M. Baker

    Is there a humane way to “harvest” ivory as a renewable resource, or do the animals replace tusks that are broken or damaged? Yay, Yao Ming!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

       In a word: No.

      Agree with your sentiment otherwise, especially in regards to Yao Ming.

  • nj_v2

    China: Blood ivory. U.S. Blood diamonds.

    Human greed and stupidity seem not to be confined by nationality, ethnicity, or much else.

  • viacarrozza

    It all comes down to the individual.  It is ‘one person at a time’ purchasing these products (and believing that one small purchase has little impact).  There may be a way to get to the individual through social networking.  Individuals become tribes and tribes change behavior.  

  • DebinProvidence

    I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get this sort of show on the air.  Better late than never isn’t good enough for this sort of thing. I can’t even listen to this I get so upset.  We are killing sentient beings on our planet and it is all stoppable.  I think at this point, and I have been an anti war activist and pro peace person, that the poachers should be killed.  Only that level of penalty will have any effect on the impetus of money on individuals.  The buying won’t stop. It hasn’t for the last century and is only getting worse.  There is a tipping point where humans don’t have priority over other species, as we don’t control ourselves from killing off everything in our way.  Including ourselves.  We are the crazy species.

    • John_in_Amherst

      Less than 100 years ago, we in America hunted numerous birds to the brink of extinction for feathers for hats.  We killed buffalo, a wide variety of “big game” species here and abroad, and passenger pigeons for sheer pleasure, nearly wiping out the buffalo and successfully extirpating the passenger pigeon.  We churned out pianos which used ivory for keys.  But attitudes have changed, at least for most people here.  We must all work – and hard – for change elsewhere. 
      I, too, feel a desperate need for an intervention on behalf of elephants, as well as big cats, great apes, whales and a host of other creatures that suffer from our cruelty and environmental desecration.  With social and conventional media, we have powerful tools to evoke change, if not through awakening compassion, then through promoting shame.  Shows like this are a start, but the road will be a long and difficult one.

  • monicaroland

    The slaughter of these wonderful creatures is profoundly depressing.  Now we find that the Chinese are responsible for much of it?  I wonder how long it would take the Chinese to throw me in jail if I tried to poach one of their pandas?  

    • John_in_Amherst

       The Chinese are now the prime offenders, but not long ago, for piano players around the world, “tickling the ivories” meant just that.  Attitudes change.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        yes the attitude towards this chinese caused problem made me think of all the problems our appitites cause like the chocolate and diamond slaves in africa.

        • John_in_Amherst

           fundamental problems (too many people chasing too many possessions, too much inequality in resource distribution, too little compassion and regard for humanity & the environment) coexist & lead to misery.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            i was thinking it was more a result of imperialism. have you ever read gullavers travels? he makes an interesting comment to the effect that much of the evil in the world is due to the desire of wealthy, in his case british, women for imported goods

          • John_in_Amherst

             no telling what lengths males will go to to impress the ladies

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            females choose what impresses them

    • John_in_Amherst

       A boycott of Chinese goods might get their attention, except it would bankrupt Apple and Walmart…

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        and that would be bad?

        • John_in_Amherst

           point well taken.  Unless you work at sprawlmart or like your mac, i-phone, etc.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            if you lose your job at walmart because of a boycott of chinese goods that boycott will also create a demand for american goods and you can get a crappy low wage job at one of those. as far as compassion for ithis or ithat users,  apple can make their products in america those chumps will pay whatever it costs for their latest doodad anyhow

      • ecogal

        boo hoo

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1218208112 Michael Muehlbauer

    We need to do more for this species.  They need to be listed as an endangered species across their range (they currently aren’t), all exports of ivory need to be banned out of African countries – no more exemptions for hunting trophies or “stockpiled” ivory.  And lastly, penalties need to be dramatically increased world-wide to punish those responsible for furthering the trade (especially here in the U.S.)  Until we take deliberate, dramatic action, nothing is going to change.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      actually promoting sustainable responsible hunting would ensure that elephants were preserved like we have saved other species with regulated hunting in america. ethical hunters are not the problem they are part of the solution.

    • ecogal

      yeah, there was a legal “take” …. the camel nose inside the tent is now the whole beast and then some.

  • jbfromsc

    No more guitars from China for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

    The Chinese are promoting via demand and greed the destruction, while the US Navy is killing of cetaceans by the testing of sonar devices(http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonar.asp). What is it with humans. We seem to love to kill everything, ourselves included.

    I agree with the general sentiment here: I’m disgusted and depressed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

      And the Japanese and US and all countires massacring killer whales and porpoises with Dolphinariums (Sea Worlds).

    • ecogal

      I hate the Navy too, sign every petition against that stupid practice. It it disgusting and immoral in my opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=33901037 Susan Wang

    I am Chinese. This segment is not only upsetting, but making me feeling ashamed. What can I, as a average citizen who doesn’t buy ivory, do to help? 

    • New_Clear_Waste

       Susan, if you are in China, there are environmental citizens’ organizations that you could join and become a supporter or activist against ivory purchasing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=33901037 Susan Wang

        Thanks. Unfortunately, I am in the US. But I am very involved with numbers of social networks used by Chinese netizens. 

        • Wotan

          If you’re on Weibo, please help spread the word. We and the elephants are running out of time. And it’s good to keep in mind that the poachers often buy weapons of war used brutally against the African locals with the proceeds from the raw ivory sales.

          • AnnNC

            Susan, “like” The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Save the Elephants, The Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Big Life Foundation, and Elephant Voices on Facebook. Then start sharing posts from them that you get in newsfeed. This is what I use my FB page for. You will be able to share information about the devastation, but also videos and stories that show how wonderful elephants are.

        • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

          Do Chinese have “stars” or people who they “listen to” besides that basketball player (that ad almost sounds trite and cute – he almost says it with a wink and a smile – to how rediculous that public service ad is)? Unless they shut down that factory its all over.

    • AnnNC

      Susan, “like” The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Save the Elephants, The Amboseli Trust for Elephants, The Big Life Foundation and Elephant Voices on Facebook. Then share posts from them that you get in newsfeed. You can share news about the poaching crisis and also stories and videos about what elephants are like. You can also share petitions. This is what I use my FB page for. You can make a difference!

    • ecogal

      study the marketing work of Solitaire Townsend – and then apply it in reverse. She got people to move to energy efficiency as the smart, cool, hip thing to do. As soon as your countrymen and women see ivory as ignorant and stupid – the demand will END. And, if you add shark fin soup and all those other things to the mix, you will become a powerhouse ecohero in the world. You go girl!

  • burroak

    Infuriating, and mind-boggling that nature’s largest land mammal-majestic, powerful, peaceful- would come to this desparate reality. And for what, a couple of tusks?
    Not to appear crazed, but how would these countries feel if thousands of their own were slaughtered each year for a couple of body parts.
    I just don’t get it.

    • ecogal

      For the record – The Cove, and the continued abhorrent practice of whaling and the dedication to catching every last blue tuna - is one reason I won’t buy anything made in Japan. Sadly, I did not know about this elephant issue until last night, tho I do also find much of China’s treatment of other animals from tigers to sharks – highly repulsive, not to mention wasteful and cruel. Disgusting.

  • jbfromsc

    Sign the pledge at Wildaid for a starter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

    Isn’t the declining number of elephants in the world irrelevant in the knowledge that they are being violently slaughtered, sometimes having their tusks removed while they are still alive? Why do we always have to reduce the value of something to what it means to us, in other words, “we” may lose our elephants. “We” may not get to see these elephants some day. If there were still plenty of elephants left in the world, with no danger of the numbers dwindling, would you, Tom, even be having this program about elephants being terrified, hunted, and slaughtered? If an animal on this earth is more intelligent, being terrified, violently abused, and brutally slaughtered is abhorrent. Whereas, if it’s only a sow or dog, the relevance of it’s suffering is diminished?    
    Tom, maybe it’s time for you to do a show on the general arrogance of man and his appetite for exploiting everything, irrelevant of the shortsighted destruction and, most importantly, the cruel suffering that they cause and leave in their wake.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      susanne i also find poaching abhorrant.

    • ecogal

      Apparently they also skin dogs and cats and other fur animals WHILE STILL ALIVE, among other things. No, it’s not just about US – it’s that “WE” collectively, recognize that this is just ONE MORE INSULT to the planet that we want to STOP.

  • nj_v2

    Petition to Obama administration. Small step, but it’s something. I was signer 587.

    Do it! And send it to your friends.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-save-elephants-and-rhinos-from-extinction

    President Barack Obama: Save Elephants and Rhinos From Extinction

    • myblusky

       Thanks for posting this. I just signed and wrote a long letter along with my signature. It would be nice if news programs would be more proactive in telling people what they can do instead of just reporting the news and throwing their hands up in the air.

    • stargazer3

       I’m signer #620. We need a lot more…..

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    I kind of like the “drone the poachers” idea. One has to believe that if there is a predator around and in this case NOT trying to be unobserved, the poachers might not choose to eat a hellfire missile.  

  • Freddy No-yes

    This is heartbreaking beyond words. 

    I am writing a letter to the Chinese embassy right now. 
    chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn
    I also just donated to Save the Elephants. http://www.savetheelephants.org

    There are also numerous Elephant pages and boycott China pages and groups on Facebook.

    • nj_v2

      Your link didn’t work for me.

      Maybe this…

      http://www.savetheelephants.org/

      There’s a donation button on the home page.

    • stargazer3

       Thank you so much for the contact information…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1499868373 Stacey Sloan Blersch

    Would it be possible to set up a recycling of existing ivory in circulation with a label as a recycled product, help slow the pace of killing? And then do some more education to show the risk.

    • Amy Mayers

      Stacey — The problem is that it is difficult if not impossible to tell “legal” ivory from illegal. Ivory dealers in China are supposed to document the ivory’s provenance but the i.d. cards they use are bought and sold like baseball trading cards. The only thing that will work is a complete ban. I recommend watching National Geo’s “Battle for the Elephants” to learn more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

    I agree, the idea of using drones to find these poachers is something that I would be happy to have my tax dollars spent on. 

  • Jay_Zuri

    While the slaughter of elephants–for their tusks, or to remove their competition with humans for territory–is horrific and tragic, it does not surprise me when humans can be so murderously destructive to other humans, on the massive scale of warfare, or the indifferent tolerance of oppressive poverty and bigotry.  Human “intelligence” is overrated.  We are actually quite stupid–no other animal destroys the environmental conditions for its own survival like humans.  Whales, elephants, wolves–many creatures–exhibit as much and even more emotional and cognitive intelligence than humans.  Humans are technological animals, but that alone does not constitute “intelligence.” We’re approaching major ecological tipping points–we cannot render other creatures extinct, and alter ecological systems drastically without rendering humanity extinct.  We’re well on our way.  Humans are intelligent?  I think not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/toby.hoffman Toby Hoffman

      Bomb the ivory factory

    • ecogal

      entirely possible the same people slaughtering the elephants were children caught up in wars a decade or less earlier – much of Africa is a big dysfunctional mess, that’s a whole other issue, but then China and others come in and take advantage…

  • Rachel_in_Boston

    What can we do? Concretely – can your guest recommend a non-profit to support, legislation to back, etc?  I don’t want to look my children in the eyes in a few years and explain that I did nothing while this species was wiped off the face of their world.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687253186 Boo Maisels

       Dear Rachel- if you go to wcs.org for example, then you can donate to elephant conservation. There are quite a few other organisations as well who can channel funds: WWF, Save the Elephants, and so on.

      You can sign petitions which are on many conservation websites, and on Azaaz.

      Why not also write to your congressman or woman – and to Senator Kerry- asking for more attention and support for elephant conservation? They are already doing a lot, and the support of people like you will encourage them to do even more.

    • Amy Mayers

      Another excellent organization to support is the Big Life Foundation, which is on the frontlines of the poaching war – https://biglife.org/

  • sburne

    I have never commented on this page before but I find this story so disturbing, that I am moved to comment. I am more convinced than ever that human beings are a scourge on this planet. Our hubris is beyond comprehension. Where to begin? Mowing entire herds down with AK7′s? Destroying these animals for the sake of vanity and a few trinkets? How can we stop this? I am in complete agreement with Suzanne Sheldon on this subject. We need to find a way to protect these creatures and seriously prosecute those who are guilty of perpetuating this horrid practice. And seriously prosecute people who buy goods made from ivory. Lock them up and throw away the key. And do we need to talk about the kind of weapons being used? This kind of carnage might not be possible if it weren’t for semi automatic weapons that allow for so many numbers of animals to be killed at one time. Of course, we have done little to stand up to China in regard to its policy towards the Tibetans. I can’t imagine anything shifting when it comes to the elephants and all other endangered species threatened to extinction by the Chinese.

    • jefe68

      It’s true, we are a very self destructive species.

  • BlakeBL

    There needs to be an international “Boycott China Day” organized ASAP in which people will buy nothing — nothing — from China for one day. And major retailers like Walmart should be pressured into selling nothing from China that day, too. There also needs to be a six-month period during which ecotourism groups will book no travel to countries where elephants are slaughtered. These majestic creatures belong to the world and this must stop immediately. Serious economic consequences may be the only way to get their attention. Clearly reason, consciene and respect for the earth is not enough. And diplomacy is no match for this sickening, ongoing travesty. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=33901037 Susan Wang

      Although I agree and support most of your idea, let’s not call it “Boycott China Day.” I just don’t think it sits well with Chinese people, especially when the government can use it as “anti-west” propagonda. I think it is more important to get people in China aware and involved with current global issues. 

      • sburne

         Although I understand this perspective, how is it going to work? It is my understanding that it is difficult to disseminate information that is at all controversial in China. And do we bring about enough awareness among the populace to make this stop in time to prevent the wipe out of an entire species? I believe something more drastic needs to be done. There just isn’t enough time to allow for education to work its magic.

        • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

          I think Susan Wang is right, that we need to use wisdom in choosing our language. A fair amount of diplomacy is required to get absolutely anywhere with the Chinese people. Extreme measures may have to be taken, but at the same time, keeping in mind, let’s not burn bridges first and then try to exercise artful discourse. These animals need our help, it is not going to be a rapid change, but a slower painful process, as much as we hate that. That’s why we have diplomats, hopefully we can write to John Kerry and convince him of our seriousness regarding this situation. We can do some ranting, but he can exercise the diplomacy with a firm voice in our message.    

          • John_in_Amherst

             Shame is a powerful lever, especially with the Chinese.  Please see my letter to the Chinese embassy, toward the top of the posts when sifted for “highest rated”

          • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

            I did read it yesterday, I was one of first to “like” it.

          • John_in_Amherst

             Thanks.  Now I wish it was possible to buy billboard space or air time in China…

      • Fredlinskip

        Do it quick.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687253186 Boo Maisels

         Hi Susan
        If people with friends and family in China can spread the word, it would be incredibly useful. So many of us are Chinese or have grandparents there.Thanks!

  • brettearle

    Eliminating a major species of animal on the planet, if, indeed, carried out by a number of groups acting, almost in concert–ought to be
    considered a capitol crime…..especially if these poachers are pre-warned of dire consequences.

    Failing
    such warnings, the sustained atrocities ought to then be considered a
    crime against Humanity and against the Planet…..it should be authorized as an INTERNATIONAL CRIME…

    and, therefore, an
    International Ranger Force for Endangered Wildlife, ought to be
    formed–where this wing of Global Law Enforcement should then
    shoot-to-injure Poachers on sight.

    • sburne

      I completely agree with this. Unfortunately, only these extreme measures will be understood enough to stop this slaughter.

    • ecogal

      Love it. Great suggestions. Agree totally.

      • brettearle

        So shall we start a Movement?

        • ecogal

          well think about it, wasn’t there some group burning down mcmansions in Vail CO? and they were trying to save the woods or whatever but they were labeled “eco-terrorists”… how is this slaughter of innocent elephants anything else?

          • brettearle

             I wasn’t being sarcastic.

            Maybe you didn’t think I was.

            I was being sincere.

            And I WASN’T, of course, recommending violence.

          • ecogal

            there are a lot of groups on the ground working on this issue with better access and ability to get in there than I have – this morning I made a healthy donation to one of them, for me that’s the easiest route and it’s one way to help. but the earth IS suffering, and yes, that is a huge ship to turn around, whether it’s some a-hole in Idaho shooting a trapped wolf for “fun” taking photos of himself and posting them on FB watching it suffer (sometimes I think violence IS called for… ) or Japanese whale “research” or 100 or 1000 other issues. See my response to Susan Wang (below) about Solitaire Townsend marketing energy smarts… I do some of the eat local, organic stuff, anti-consumerism, pro-recycling here in my own backyard and at work… there are tons of groups and lots of like minded people. I start raising awarenss on these issues for ex. with emails and posting articles at work outside my cube… every effort helps. BTW – the day after this story came out, I saw Chinese students on the commute to work that almost seemed to be hiding their faces, so yeah, peer pressure works. BIG TIME.

          • ecogal

            here’s a group that’s working on the issue…http://www.greatergood.com/emails/2013/pet-032413-animals-solo-w.html

          • ecogal

            here’s a link to a group doing some work over there… http://www.greatergood.com/emails/2013/pet-032413-animals-solo-w.html and I promise I will continue to educate people and get them off the killing animals for parts things to the best of my ability.

  • kwaible

    NPR is to be commended for helping to publicize the abhorrent elephant slaughter.  However, although Tom Ashbrook was obviously outraged, it was extremely disappointing that none of his guests offered any solution.  Aside from listeners’ suggestions essentially suggesting in-kind treatment for the killers, there was NOTHING SUGGESTED!!  If there are no consequences for the killers, traders, etc.  nothing will change; things are only getting worse.  What do the experts who have spent years on this suggest??   Karen W. Bflo, NY

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      maybe they could fit the elephants with bullet proof vests.  a bulletproof elephant would be a force to be reckoned with.  in some places they preemptivly cut the tusks to make the elephants less valuable to the poachers. the exotic organ and body part market is a direct result of the growth of the wealthy in china. in america bears are being poached for their gall bladders which are used for chinese medicine

  • kwaible

    NPR is to be commended for helping to publicize the continued elephant slaughter.  However, although Tom Ashbrook was obviousl outraged, none of his guests offered even one solution.  If there are no consequences for the killers, the traders, the diplomats who smuggle, the “kingpins” etc.  nothing will change.  In fact, the slaughter is getting worse.  How can the guests spend years on this issue & not offer ONE SOLUTION? Is there too much concern with offending the countries and the people who are causing this slaughter?  Are we so beholden to China for buying US debt that we dare not show courage in this?  Will we continue to send aid to the African nations who allow a few people to be enriched by this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    send some of those california game wardens over there

    • ecogal

      Sorry, but I did not start Wal-Mart or determine that the best measure of a company is how rich the CEO is or how much money the shareholders make. I did not ship any companies to China and those decisions weren’t made by most Americans. They were made under Clinton and by a largely Republican Congress – Free Trade and the China “most favored nation status.” I knew it would be a disaster, and I watched the late Robert Bird as a LONE VOICE in the Congress trying to turn the tide. Maybe we need bounty on K Street and friends. I don’t wear diamonds, can’t afford gold, get my chocolate from organic cacao shade grown chocolate in South America.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        and what about your sweaters? lol you do all those things because you are ecogirl kudos to you maybe you can educate more americans about the impacts they have around the world with their mass consumption maybe you can recruit a chinese ecogirl to do the same there regarding the ivory

        • ecogal

          my favorite sweaters came from yard sales or were stolen from my dead brother (yes, that’s true), my work clothes come from the same chains any one else might use – whatever is handy to go shopping at – which in my case is NOT Wal-mart… but that’s another issue. I haven’t bought a new one in at least two years. Why do people on these blog pages always seem to want to waste time picking a fight with  some “typical american” about how “pure” or “hypocritical” they are about buying crap from a country that all our multi-national corporations have gone to so they can increase their profits? There are better ways to direct those energies to help elephants, and yes, I will find some. Americans are their own worst enemies when they start this stupid in-fighting.   woof woof.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            i was just kidding

  • jeannacesaratto

    Remember the whales?  How about the American Bison or the wolf or the redwood?  In the past, now and I’m sure in the future, humans, especially in powerful, rich nations, somehow think that profit trumps the life of all nonhuman species.  Perhaps right to life advocates should turn some of their energy to stopping this slaughter because who knows when human slaughter will become a profitable enterprise.  Of course it already is in some parts of the world.  JKC 

  • graciella77

    Foster an elephant: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/index.asp

  • learningandthinking

    I do not want to discount this tragedy and the importance of ended this killing, but think about where our phone parts come from. We should be outraged by the wasting of resources that so many Western/rich/developed nations are doing around the world, including China and Africa. 

    It is easy to be judgmental of others but maybe should be looking at what we are buy too. 

    • ecogal

      I haven’t needed a cell phone for the last 55 years and I don’t need one for the next 55. But it’s a very relevant and related issue.

      • learningandthinking

        I can appreciate that but I am guessing you are writing this on a computer! I am not on a high horse as I am definitely guilty but I think it is important to realize that we, in the West, are not living a guilt-free life. 

        • ecogal

          Not at all, we are the land of the cotton gin and the model T… invented the “industrial” version of mass slaughter of cows, pigs and chickens… and did a damn good job on the buffalos once upon a time too. But it’s the 21st century now, and any one that wants to live in it needs to realize its limitations. U.S. too. And the U.S. doesn’t need bazillions of throwaway geegaws from China – so, if we can show them that we can use our money to show our disapproval of old-world b.s. like killing off a whole species for a hat. That’s SO last century!

  • http://www.facebook.com/janet.goss.1 Janet Goss

    From Jan – formerly from Snyder

  • http://profiles.google.com/filmi.girl Filmi Girl

    White house petition: http://wh.gov/sA5V 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504736999 Monica Lee Hayes

    Good news then! It seems clear after this hour of On Point that the survival of the African Forest Elephant is almost directly in the hands of the American consumer. Let´s dry our eyes and make a choice for the elephants:
                  Want to stop an elephant attack? 
                       If it´s made in China,
                              Put it back!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504736999 Monica Lee Hayes

    Good news then! It seems clear after this hour of On Point that the survival of the African Forest Elephant is almost directly in the hands of the American consumer. Let´s dry our eyes and make a choice for the elephants:
                  Want to stop an elephant attack? 
                       If it´s made in China,
                              Put it back!

  • stargazer3

    This suggestion was made by someone but elephants very much need their tusks to exist. They’re an integral part of their being. That’s why they were created that way……..

  • jdkloster

    Bounty hunters!  Put a substantial price on the heads of the kingpin poachers!  Like we did with Bin Laden!

    • ecogal

      and on the idiots wearing/sporting/eating/using the endangered animal products? and then, good riddance.

  • jdkloster

    Bounty hunters. Set bounty hunters on the kingpin poachers. We did it
    for Bin Laden, why not now? There is enough money to back this kind of
    response.

  • Aina_B

    In 2006 there was an article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/magazine/08elephant.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0) sounding the alarm about elephant herds falling apart and acting out as a result of their destruction of habitat and communities – like to the extent that they were documented attacking human villages and raping rhinoceroses (!).

    This incredible doctor and activist from Uganda, Eve Abe, saw how the disruption of elephant communities mirrored the violence that causes ongoing anguish in her own human community, and determinedly got into Cambridge University in order to study and advance intertwined causes of elephants and Africans.  She was at the time working on a memoir “My Elephants and My People”, a cry for help against the increasing destruction of the fragile bio- and cultural ecosystem in Africa.

    As other commenters have said, surely there must be a way to utilize drones to protect the elephants?  What if we enabled them with a technology that would track their blood pressure or monitor their stress so that armed protectors could come to their aid before poachers found them?  At least until we make inroads into educating buyers of ivory about the cruelty of this trade?

    It is heartbreaking to hear that the roaring market for ivory is consciously committing these atrocities.

  • BANDIT_EV

    I DO believe people should boycott ALL Chinese products. They are usually made cheap and can also be toxic. Most people don’t agree with the lack of morals and humanity. For example there is a new video out showing Chinese fur factories, dogs,cats, and other wildlife being skinned alive. It was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen. The video made me realize that we cannot go on supporting the Chinese by buying their products. I have begun to BOYCOTT ALL CHINESE PRODUCTS myself and I encourage others to do so. I will not support the lack of humanity for humans or animals any longer by buying cheap merchandise that has little value and falls apart. I cannot support a country that I disagree with so strongly. If I see made in China I don’t buy, and I share with shop owners and companies. WRITE letters, sign petitions, donate to wildlife groups. These atrocities won’t stop until we send CHINA a message. Not everything that moves is for your consumption CHINA! It is truly horrific, Elephants are amazing and the Chinese won’t stop until they are wiped off the face of the earth! Lets DO something about it, put pressure on our government, and STOP buying ALL things Chinese and send them a message! BUY AMERICAN or from other countries for that matter!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OWBMDXASSISG7VATVIV3KDOFK4 Jackie

    1. The US should send drones to kill the poachers. this is urgent. 2. if the locals can make a living without killing, then the elephants would have a chance. create a way of living for them. 3. consumers all over the world should learn responsible consumption: whether it’s China or US, ivory or palm oil, elephants or orangutans, Africa or Malaysia, the non-stop mindless consumption has to stop: rosewood furniture, diamond, constantly upgrading the mobile devices (mineral earth). It’s not just the elephants. It’s the numbness of consumers. It’s the ever increasing population.

    • lizsalander

      You have the mistaken info that the poaching is an occasional activity by a needy local – the ivory and rhino trades are driven by highly organized, funded, and armed Chinese and Vietnamese crime syndicates – they totally outgun the rangers who are trying to protect these animals – the poachers swoop in with unmarked helicopters, land, shoot, and butcher off the horn or tusks as quickly as possible.  I highly recommend the book “Killing for Profit” by SA journalist Julian Rademeyer, published last year, which thoroughly documents the sordid rhino horn trade. It will open your eyes to what is one of the largest criminal enterprises on earth, the trade in endangered species – bigger than heroin/cocaine, etc.  

  • casual_observer2

    I’m ashamed of humans having the ability to slaughter these magnificent animals and for such a senseless reason.  And we’re equally to blame for allowing these atrocities to perpetuate and not intervening to put an end to it.  But as mentioned earlier, greed always seems to trump humanity.

    • brettearle

      Not always.

      Species have been saved before.

      Obama should SAY something and DO something.

      Regardless of any sort of politics, going on, behind the scenes.

  • JerryHaigh

    As a wildlife vet & book author I also blog about the elephant crisis. The ivory ones are at http://jerryhaigh.blogspot.ca/search/label/elephant Posted one today about the latest CITES mess. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tammie-Huber/1594085852 Tammie Huber

    So I sit here crying, what can we do, I just do not get selfish, greedy people…

    • brettearle

       Call me self-righteous, if you like.

      But the only way to get a `leg-up’ on people like that is to recognize that greed and selfishness are as ENDEMIC in the human soul as generosity and compassion are.

    • lizsalander

      Don’t cry – fight – check out this organization which is actively working to relocate rhinos to Botswana, which has banned all hunting for endangered species (no canned lion hunting, no permits granted for elephant or rhino hunting – which are just “covers’ for the illegal trade. This is in answer to a question I posed to author Peter Allison about which organizations in Africa are making a real difference on the ground in Africa:

      Hi Bonny, thanks for coming through with this question. You are correct that some do spend a lot of time and money marketing and less time ‘doing’. There are some I can recommend with of course all the usual disclaimers, I often know these people, work with them, etc etc, but that is how I know they are trustworthy. 
      First off is the Wilderness Trust, run by the company I work for – a major plan this year is to move rhinos from South Africa where genocide is taking place against them, to Botswana where the government offers protection. All funds for this go directly to the project and not to administrators. This is the charity that my colleague and I raised funds for in December with a boxing match – there are not too many causes I’d let myself get punched in the head for. 
      You can donate here:
      http://www.resourcesfirstfoundation.org/donate.aspx
      And tick the box that says ‘Botswana reintroduction project’. 
      If you’d like any more suggestions please let me know!Support Resources First Foundation
      http://www.resourcesfirstfoundation.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/maura.sheehan.75 Maura Sheehan

    Heartbreaking. What can we do to stop it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504736999 Monica Lee Hayes

      Although extremely difficult, STOP buying products made in China. Its THAT simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patrick.amazan.9 Patrick Amazan

    I have to say this was a disturbing piece. Yet even more disturbing is they reaction to the piece from most people living in their comfortable western civilization, unwilling to let go of their material life that is in part what make the ivories so valuable to the poachers. They’re not taking those tusk to use themselves but to sell to others who then will put those ivory to use for mostly people like you and I living in Western society. 
    What is also disturbing is the consensus among a lot of those comments that somehow the life of those people are not as valuable as the life of the elephants. “Kill them”, I hear. “Send the drones”, I hear. When those comments are brought up on the piece, the guest speaker didn’t object, hardly hiding a seal of approval. Why? Because they’re living in a far away land and are not worth the same treatment that say an american doing the same would receive? Prison, maybe at most. Fine, most likely. If someone is found illegally hunting wild animals in the US. But hey Africans are not humans, right? in fact they’re not even animals, right? Killing them is not a problem as long as it is to save the poor elephants. Let me repeat again and see if the readers understand the mentality displayed here int eh reactions to the story: “The life of those human beings are worth nothing compared to the life of the elephants they’re killing”; in other words it’s better to kill those human beings than to kill those animals going extinct. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

      Excuse me, but I mentioned that a drone may be a good idea, never meaning one that was attached to a missle. I was thinking more along the line of observation and finding those that are guilty of the crime against the elephants, whether directly or indirectly. Of course I see Africans as equals, sometimes being equally capable of committing atrocities. Whether American, African, or whatever, they should be held responsible for their actions. It’s been brought to my attention that many of these poor creatures, the elephants, had their tusks removed while they were alive and fully conscious. As far as I’m aware, the elephant did absolutely nothing to warrant the violent and barbaric treatment they received. 
      Do I understand that you view this as a situation between killing innocent animals and killing men who have begun violent slaughter of elephants for profit? I believe there is a more complicated issue, and I never understood that anyone wants to kill anyone. The point is to STOP killing period! 
      As an animal rights activist (whether it takes place in America, Africa, or wherever) I can understand the initial and angry reaction when hearing yet another story of abuse on animals by man. We read and see one story after another, witness unbelievable sadistic abuse of all kinds of animals in all sorts of situations. It’s heartbreaking and so very sad that those defenseless animals have to suffer so, at the hand of humans, and so very sad that humans can be so cruel and inhumane. 
      I’m not at all sure what stand you’re trying to take here. All I see is that you find it offensive that anyone should be outraged that this violent ivory trade should result in justice for those guilty of this abhorrent crime, feeling  that it should be stopped sooner rather than later. Does that mean that you believe animals were put on this planet for the sole purpose of exploitation by humans, no matter to what extent the suffering they experience, no matter how many that humans cause to become extinct? 
      May I remind you that those that you are so angry with are reacting to seeing innocent and defenseless elephants that were minding their own business, before those men came after them and slaughtered them for their ivory. The elephants felt terror, felt the severe pain, and felt grief before they died.        

    • ecogal

      yes. the life of sensate, gentle creatures who psychically knew and traveled to mourn the death of one of their advocates is worth more than an ignorant, greedy, brutal human who cares nothing for the environment and other animals that were here before them. I’ll say it loud and clear – YES – the elephants matter more than the humans that (a) are killing them and (b) stupid enough to demand their body parts for stupid sh*t they could easily make out of plastic.

  • Tyranipocrit

    I will point my finger at china–i will point two. 

    Is there anyway we can deploy soldiers, or UN peacekeepers to protect them?  We do it for oil, why not for this and other lifeforms–including people–like in the Congo.  But anyway–it wouldn’t take much more than a squad or unit of UN soldiers or American peacekeepers to protect them–and use lethal fire to prevent poaching.

    I call on all activists to get on a boat and get to Africa and protect them.

    The caller who says sanction China–I am behind you.  And not just for ivory and genocide.  Sanction china Now!  China is the doom of the world for so man many reasons–not because all Chinese are bent on its destruction but because most of the are ignorant, apathetic, and under the heel of tyrants.

    If we dont intervene with force we are guilty too for doing nothing.

    • Tyranipocrit

      and of course I do mean to protect animals/elephants–perhaps people under genocidal attack as in Darfur or Congo–but never for resources never for the rich never for lies. But I would join the army to defend elephants and be the best soldier that ever lived.

  • Tyranipocrit

    I call on Obama to call out the Chinese and send troops now!

  • Miles Wimbrow

    My pessimistic, albeit I think realist response is that all this means is that the last elephant tusk will be that much more expensive. Someone will pay top-dollar for it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=735218702 Lana Lundin

    Yea for Yao Ming!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=735218702 Lana Lundin

    Yea for Yao Ming!

  • ecogal

    Send China back to the rice paddies, between shark fin soup, rhino horn, tiger penis and now elephant tusks, farming all over Africa and South America… making them the factory to the world and rising them out of subsistance living is an ECOLOGICAL DISASTER. SHAME.

    • Aina_B

       Yo, that’s racist

      • ecogal

        lack of any conscience at all with regard to the natural world and other species suffering is also racist – human race vs everything else.

        • Aina_B

          Are you kidding me?  Look, I’m pro-enviroment and completely against poaching and any sale of ivory, and think the first order is to protect the animals and educate populations about the devastation of poaching, but “send China back to the rice paddies”? Do you have ANY IDEA how racist and first worldist that is?  That is backbreaking labor that shortens lives and promotes poverty and ignorance!  When you’re working for your food every day you don’t have very much time and energy left to learn about high concepts such as science and morals that WE IN THE FIRST WORLD CAN AFFORD.

          I suppose you’ve benefited from modern medicine and vaccines at some point, right?  You are typing on a computer with parts from China, I imagine, on internet provided by a router and ISP who use devices with parts made in China, all in the luxury of a stable economic structure built on capitalism that has accumulated great wealth (on the backs of others and often through ethically distasteful means, yes, but here we are).  Your presence on the internet is a direct benefit from all those hundreds of years of growth.  You presumably have had the luxury of plenty in your background to afford you at least a free high school education and time to contemplate philosophy and ethics.  Guess what- all that benefit came about because scientists and philosophers before you who had TIME to work on ideas instead of laboring for bread.

          “Shame on them” for “rising out of subsistence”?  You condemn from afar another society going through an industrial revolution- do you even see your privilege? Why would you condemn people to the very lifestyle that promotes superstition that LEADS to the demand for such substances as ivory?

          I agree that outsourcing our manufacturing to the cheapest labor instead of implementing an economy based on fair wages and responsible growth is a problem, but that’s OUR issue to figure out.  Education campaigns against ivory should be enacted in countries that buy it, but consider that despite the problems arising from global economic growth, we should not blame people in the world for wanting to have a measure of a comfortable life.  I’m sorry to break it to you, but we cannot have global economic stability if EVERYONE is a farmer or a hunter gatherer.

      • lizsalander

        Call it what you want – it’s true – they are the primary driver of both the ivory market (overgrown tooth) and the market for rhino horn (overgrown hair).  Their ignorance and greed is causing the slaughter of these animals – you can keep sitting there as the PC police.  Sometimes evil must be called out to begin to fight it.

  • neverlast

    The demise of the elephant as man unkind perpetrates or ignores the catastrophe is the most horrendous of acts of our time on earth.  The international treaty organization known as CITES just allowed the massacre to continue, not daring to step on Chinese toes.  Nations who have amassed stockpiles of ivory await the permits to sell it off to China. The trophy hunting lobby and the politics of the ecomony of murder prevailed at CITES, in spite of global outcry to stop the killing.  This is morally reprehensible, and no society should accept this.  While a good percentage of humans have willingly gone the way of the couch potato, it can be no excuse for the ugliest side of barbarians prevail in this.  When you get the opportunity to make a stand, which hopefully will be soon, please take it.

  • http://twitter.com/dr_sassy Melissa Yuan-Innes

    I cried when I heard this too.
    In a quick search of how to help the elephants, I see that you should buy fair trade coffee, because a lot of elephant habitat is destroyed for coffee plantations. So there’s something concrete Westerners can do besides boycotting ivory.I don’t drink coffee, but I’m also going to research some foundations and figure out which ones are reputable so I can put some money where my mouth is. My local group has already donated to WildAid because of the campaign to reduce rhino horn demand in China.

  • ecogal

    why are the Yao Ming ads in English?

  • LetsGetReal

    Americans with 4 x China’s per capita energy consumption and sense of eternal entitlement to the worlds most waste producing unsustainable consumer lifestyle might consider getting their blubbery behinds off their high horse from the backs of which not so long ago they almost decimated the buffalo not to mention the native American.

    Who once had the world’s biggest and deadliest whaling fleet slaughtering elephant’s noble cousins of the seas? Who now grinds into hamburgers the most livestock held under the most obscenely inhumane industrial conditions? 

    The jingoistic finger pointing by the drone jockeys rampant amongst many of these comments is what you don’t need when addressing this problem which requires working WITH all the people involved in order to be able solve it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

      Again, I need to make it clear, when speaking of drones I mean in terms of surveillance. Couldn’t we use them to find the poachers and arrest them? I don’t believe in killing, not elephants, not animals, not people. Perhaps that’s the kind of drone everyone meant. It may not be a good idea to jump to the wrong conclusion. Furthermore, as someone that works to stop animal abuse, we view a lot of sad and barbaric videos, pictures, and read many stories. I can certainly sympathize with those reactions of people who have just witnessed such violent images of the suffering of innocent animals at the hands man. At times, I feel like killing them with my own hands, the men that is, after a particularly horrific story. I’ve learned to try to mentally distance myself to avoid such deep sadness and anger, and so I don’t burn out. So, even if people mean killing drones, I’m pretty sure it’s a temporary reaction to the horror that they just witnessed. Let us hope.       

      • lizsalander

        IAPF is already using drones to detect poachers in Africa.  Check out their site IAPF.org and read the article in the Feb/March issue of Africa Geographic. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.sheldon.50 Suzanne Sheldon

          Thanks, I did and of course didn’t see anything about killer-drones! Interesting site, offers ways to help the cause.

    • http://twitter.com/tom_upshaw Tom Upshaw

      The U.S. can’t just control poor African countries, but what we can do is acquire a substantial population of elephants and preserve them in a wild state outside of Africa until such future time as their slaughter isn’t so tempting to the poachers. But that would require the GOP to admit that public tax funding can serve a useful and important purpose :-s Otherwise  it would just end up being another animals-bred-for-slaughter-to-make-money program. Another useful thing would be to develop artificial ivory that appears to be real and flood the market with it, since the main driver for this market appears to be the ignorant superstitions and quack “medicine” of the Chinese. At this point anyone in the West who buys anything made out of real ivory should be sent to prison.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.shea.90 Kelly Shea

    Time to protect elephants like they do oil!! The U.S. has invested billions for the export of oil out of Chad & Gabon & major trading partners are U.S. & China. Time to take China by the balls to drop the ivory!!

  • http://twitter.com/ecmconcannon Emma Concannon

    Elephants have been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember. I am very distressed by this story and am desperate how I can do something, above and beyond donating money to an organization that’s doing something. If anyone has resources or somewhere I can get involved with raising awareness (I live in NYC), please respond to this post.

  • http://twitter.com/bearsrepeating audiodoc

    If we don’t act NOW to stop the trade in ivory and the illegal poaching these iconic and beautiful animals will cease to exist. I don’t get how we are allowing this to happen. I blame the governments and I blame CITES, what a bunch of frauds

  • http://www.facebook.com/totenkopf666 Phil Belinfante

    pls consider donating to http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/  and   https://biglife.org/  ..pls read up on these folks , they r doing great work for the elefants, these r not profesional charities that rake in cash for their CEOs n fundraisers, these r genuine great people fighting on behalf of the elefants right now..if u really r concerned about the extinction of Afrikan elefants you owe it to the elefants to help these 2 genuine charities,, but first , pls read about their great efforts

  • Regular_Listener

    This is so sickening.  I really hope that serious action is taken soon, and it sounds like the Chinese government needs to step up and start doing something.

    Unfortunately, elephants are not the only thing we will lose if human populations continue to grow at current rates, because it does not seem likely that people will begin to stop exploiting and abusing nature any time soon – not to say that we shouldn’t try to change people’s minds.

  • carolinacares

    The serious actions should have taken place years ago and until there is no longer any financial incentive, it will continue to happen. See the report ‘Made in China’ by the Environmental Investigation Agency published many years ago and can be found at http://www.eia-global.orgwww.eia-global.orgWrite and make your feelings known to Sec. of State John Kerry, the US Ambassador to China Gary Locke and the China Joint Commission on Commerce/Trade Acting Secretary Rebacca Blank and US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.

  • carolinacares

    The serious action that needs to be taken should have been taken a century ago, it may be too late to turn the tide now. See the report ‘Made in China’ by the Environmental Investigation Agency http://www.eia-global.org published several years ago. Write your Secretary of State John Kerry, the US Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, the Chinese Ambassador to the US Zhang Yesui, the China Joing Commission on Commerce/Trade Acting Rep. Rebecca Blank and US Trade Rep Ambassador Ron Kirk, to make your outrage known. Do something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheWINAwards Phyllis Stuart

    we must mobilize…just writing about these matters is NOT changing men with machine guns. Those who love animals outnumber the idiots. Can we mobilize? Call the UN…Call the state department, both good…practical action ideas welcome..

  • katkosh1

    With all of the technology we have at hand today I cannot believe that something cannot be done about this tragic situation.  This world is a living Hell for most animals…

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