WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP STOP THE KILLING OF ELEPHANTS?
Many people tell us they do not know how they can have an impact and help save elephants. We believe that all of us need to get involved and take part. You don’t need to do everything, but if you take the action that most speaks to your talents, abilities, and desires, then you truly can have an impact. Here are a few things we believe each of us can do:
• SUPPORT ACTION-ORIENTED ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON THE FRONT LINES OF ANTI-POACHING AND DEMAND-REDUCTION.
• LOBBY YOUR GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITIZE THE FIGHT AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME, INCLUDING A TOTAL BAN ON IVORY TRAFFICKING
• DO NOT BUY IVORY AND INFORM OTHERS WHY THEY MUST NOT BUY IT
• SHARE INFORMATION AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE
• STAY TUNED IN AND DON’T GIVE UP.
Most nonprofits work in one or more of five aspects of wildlife conservation:
1. Anti-poaching: Helping ranger teams be more effective.
2. Anti-trafficking: Creating and maintaining informer networks, gathering intelligence about traffickers, buyers and sellers, and outing public officials and others involved with facilitating the illegal wildlife trade.
3. Demand reduction: Creating PSAs that help change the hearts and minds of wildlife consumers.
4. Improving laws and increasing penalties: Lobbying your government to adopt laws that put wildlife and biological diversity ahead of economics and personal interests; increasing judicial penalties for those who are caught and convicted.
5. Science: Using technology and science to research and understand the pressures being put on biodiversity, species, and habitats, and using that research to direct funds and attention accordingly.
1. REDUCING ELEPHANT POACHING
This is where pre-emptive action must be taken – in other words, taking action to protect elephants while they are still alive. This is urgent to address because we need to buy time for elephants now, while pursuing the longer term goals of reducing demand for ivory and dismantling smuggling networks.
The most effective way for people around the world to help stop the killing of elephants in Africa is by financially supporting the people operating on the front line: action-oriented organizations and agencies that are proactively involved with anti-poaching work. Awareness-raising on its own is not enough if it does not lead to real, substantive action.
The financial equation in the anti-poaching effort is straightforward: the more funds you have, the more anti-poaching rangers you can train and deploy; the more fuel you have, the longer you can operate your anti-poaching vehicles, and so on. The poaching problem does not need high tech solutions; we need finances for the basics: vehicles, fuel, field supplies, training, equipping and deployment of trustworthy rangers on the ground. In most cases, we don’t need to have rangers everywhere. We just need to have enough rangers in an area to create a known formidable obstacle for poachers; to make them realize that they can end up being arrested or shamed by their community.
At ESPFund, we combine our elephant protection work with Tsavo Pride’s programs for community development. Our collaboration not only provides meaningful incentives for the people who co-exist with wildlife to protect it, but also involves people directly with the management of their own natural resources, including their wildlife. However, these are longer term projects/aims, and in the short term, we still need to buy time for elephants through stringent anti-poaching measures so that when these projects start yielding results, there are still some elephants left. Time is not on our side any more.
2. INTERCEPTING SMUGGLED IVORY AND DISMANTLING TRAFFICKING NETWORKS
This is mostly the domain of law enforcement agencies along the ivory smuggling routes. We at ESPFund are also creating a community-based intelligence network of informers throughout Kenya. As the general public, we can lobby our respective governments to insist they give this issue the priority it deserves. Adequate resources need to be directed towards intercepting ivory shipments and dismantling smuggling networks.
3. REDUCING THE DEMAND FOR IVORY
If ivory becomes socially taboo, its value will diminish. But as long as there is a demand for ivory, the killing of elephants will continue. The most obvious solution is of course to say “don’t buy ivory” and inform your friends why they shouldn’t either. But if you don’t live in an ivory-buying country, you can still impact the situation positively. The ivory consuming nations are well known – write to their Ambassadors in your country and tell them why you believe ivory trading should be banned and that ivory has no place in a modern, civilized society. Ask them to close down their ivory carving factories, both the government-owned and the privately owned ones.
Those who buy ivory carry the responsibility for the slaughter of elephants in Africa. But it’s not just the buyers who are to blame. We all share the responsibility for what is happening on our watch: those of us in countries where elephants still exist that are primarily responsible for their protection; those of us in countries that allow ivory to be trafficked through their ports and airports; those of us in countries that allow their citizens to buy ivory whether legally or illegally; and those of us who sit by, saying and doing nothing while the world’s largest land mammal steadily and undeniably heads towards imminent extinction.
Share, share, share your sentiments on social media, circulate the facts and figures, help swell the tide and make ivory socially unacceptable everywhere.
4. LAWS AND PENALTIES
When writing to your government representatives, remind them this is not simply an animal welfare issue – ivory poaching is now part of a larger threat involving organized crime, arms proliferation and terrorist finance. Insist that your government votes at CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to maintain a total ban on international ivory sales.
Domestic wildlife laws everywhere also need to be robust and stringently enforced.
Did you know that even while the international trade in ivory is currently banned, many countries still allow a legal domestic trade in ivory? Write to your representatives and insist your country bans ALL ivory trading. If you live in a country that still has elephants, insist to your government that anti-poaching laws are adequately severe, strictly upheld and stringently enforced.