Friday, February 8, 2013

New efforts to curb elephant poaching - before it is too late

There is a growing move to try and stop the shattering effect of massive elephant poaching to fuel the ivory carving industry (yes, industry) in China. At least 25,000 elephants were slaughtered last year and the rate has not diminished.

Many of the animals were very young. Some carried almost no visible ivory, but the price of the stuff is so high than even pieces a few centimetres long, and still invisible inside the mouths of the calves, are taken.  The western efforts may not have much effect on the government of a notoriously insular nation and their newish generation of ultra-wealthy businessmen.

After all, as I have reported before after following Bryan Christy’s tweets and FB reports about his work for National Geographic, the Chinese have built a large factory dedicated to this ancient art and there are at least a dozen master carvers at work creating stunningly beautiful works. In one of Christy’s most recent reports, the first installment of what promises to be a landmark story, he shows a set of empty benches in the factory that are waiting to be occupied by apprentices. Here is the trailer. The entire film, titled Battlefor the Elephants is due to be premiered on Feb 27 on PBS.

I have half a dozen blog posts over the last couple of years about this issue, and you can find them under the keyword ivory on this site. I doubt anyone in China either knows about them, or if they do, gives a tinker’s damn. 

One greatly respected man, Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, has visited Africa and made a real effort to curb the violence being perpetrated in the name of human greed. He opens with these words:

“After witnessing how illegal ivory was obtained, I really was speechless. After seeing these animals up close and watching them interact in loving and protective family groups, it was heart wrenching and deeply depressing to see them cruelly taken before their time.”

You can read his entire blog post, titled THE REALITY OF THE IVORY TRADE here.

A much less well-known elephant advocate is a 14 year-old Hong Kong Chinese girl named Celia Ho. Bryan Christy tweeted about her in these terms: This Might Be the Most Important Step Ever to Stop the Ivory Trade.

She may be the new bright spark that could ignite the sort of fire that is needed inside China. Christy has posted a tweet about Celia, who has has started a campaign to try and make more folks aware of the ivory trade and you see her work here.

Celia asks for suport and even supplies an email address. I wrote to her. Why don't you do the same?

This is what I wrote to
Feb 22nd update. Celia now has a new email address. Use it as well if you can
It is:

Dear Celia, 
Congratulations on your inspired efforts.

I have worked with elephant since 1970 and write about them, and other conservation issues, on my blog. I'm not sure that I have had much of an effect as my readers are from the west. What you are doing is much more likely to be successful. China's government-sponsored huge ivory carving industry is one of the main problems. 

In my blog of Oct 2 2012 I quoted J. Michael Fay's National Geographic news watch page titled (Elephant Guards Murdered in Chad)

He wrote: 

In China if you somehow managed to convince 99.9 percent of the population not to buy ivory, that 0.1 percent who remain unconvinced represents 1.3 million people still wanting to buy ivory.” 

That is a lot more people in China alone than there are elephants in all of Africa.

Good luck with your efforts. I will spread the word about your endeavours when I tell stories to schoolchildren here in Canada.

Will anyone reading this post please do the same to their own friends, FB friends, other social media contacts, teachers and colleagues? Let everyone you know, know.

The sooner the better.


Diane said...

Posted on FB. Diane

Jerry Haigh said...

Great. Let's hope your FB friends pass it on.