Saturday, September 7, 2013

Elephants, Vultures and Poaching

I read the news via my iPad;  CNN, MSNBC, Google News, Huffington Post and so on.  Syria, Iraq, Dennis Rodman, Riddick and the Australian elections seemed to dominate.  It was only when I opened the Salon app that this story appeared:  41 Zimbabwe Elephants Poisoned In Worse National Case Ever.   It was one of those "WTF" moments.

Elephants are sentient intelligent beings.  Their brains are 11 pounds compared to our puny human brains.  They grieve their dead, possess a complex social structure, language, tool use and so on.  Many conclude (as do I) that keeping them chained in zoos is immoral.  Yet, they are seen by many in China, Thailand and Viet Nam as a commodity.   They don't kill them for meat.  They want the elephant tusks for bogus medicinal purposes, status and for decorative trinkets.  

Currently, a genocide is taking place in Africa.  Last year 30, 000 elephants were ruthlessly murdered for their ivory tusks.  Millions of dollars is at stake in its blackmarket trade.  Poachers are generally poor desperate people the smugglers rely on to do the dirty work.  Poachers, when caught are given slaps on the wrist with shockingly light sentences.  It comes as no surprise, we probably will witness the extinction of all wild elephants in Africa disappear in the next 12 years!   

The sophistication of elephant poaching is brutal and quite efficient.  Now, vultures are being poisoned so authorities and game wardens won't be warned by the birds circling the carrion.   The African white-backed vultures are endangered.  Yes, things do go from bad to worse.  The poison used to kill the birds are spread through the ecosystem.  Definitely, a dark time.

What can you do?  I know, the situation appears hopeless.  The reality of the slaughter is depressing.  However, don't give up the battle!  Below are some links.  Maybe, just maybe the elephants and birds might have a fighting chance.

----Louis Vassmer MS, Pres., PWA

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