South Africa’s Ivory Delusion. Why Selling Ivory Stockpiles To China Will NOT Stop The Illegal Ivory Trade

The values of Zimbabwe’s and Namibia’s ivory stockpiles have been grossly overstated, and their proposed sale would lead to another poaching epidemic.

In 2020 the world reacted in shock when Namibia announced plans to auction off 170 live Elephants to the highest bidder.

Despite criticism, the plans have continued to move forward — and that may just be the start. Tucked away in a press release justifying the auction was a rehash of the country’s oft-repeated desire to also sell ivory. The Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism’s stated:

“Namibia has major stockpiles of valuable wildlife products including ivory which it can produce sustainably and regulate properly, and which if traded internationally could support our Elephant conservation and management for decades to come.”

Namibia is not alone in this desire to capitalize on its wildlife. In Zimbabwe’s national assembly last year, the minister of environment valued the country’s stockpile of 130 metric tonnes (143 tons) of ivory and 5 tonnes (5.5 tons) of rhino horn at $600 million in U.S. dollars. This figure, which would value ivory at more than $4,200 per kilogram, has since been seized upon by commentators seeking to justify the reintroduction of the ivory trade.

Charan Saunders is an environmental accountant dedicated to ethical conservation, so she wanted to understand these numbers and how they motivate countries. In truth, she found not even full black-market value comes close to arriving at this figure.

Black-market values are, of course, often invisible to the general public, but the most recent data from criminal justice experts finds that unworked (or raw) Elephant ivory sells for about $92/kg on the black market in Africa, while rhino horn is currently selling for $8,683/kg.

Therefore, a more realistic valuation of Zimbabwe’s ivory stockpiles, using an optimistic wholesale price of $150/kg, would give a potential income of only $19.5 million in U.S. dollars.

This is a 30th of Zimbabwe’s estimate.

And even then, those numbers fail to account for the disaster that would happen if ivory sales return — as we saw in the all-too-recent past.

The One-Off Sales

SEIZED ILLEGAL IVORY

International trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, following a 10-year period in which African Elephant numbers declined by 50%, from 1.3 million to 600,000. However, in 1999 and 2008 CITES allowed “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory, to disastrous effect. The selling prices achieved then were only $100/kg and $157/kg, in U.S. dollars respectively, due to collusion by official Chinese and Japanese buyers.

The intention of CITES in approving the one-off ivory sales was to introduce a controlled and steady supply of stockpiled ivory into the market. The legal supply, coupled with effective systems of control, aimed to satisfy demand and reduce prices. This in turn should have reduced the profitability of (and the demand for) illegal ivory. Poaching should have followed suit and decreased.

Instead, the sales led to an increase in demand and, consequently, an increase in Elephant poaching. The 2008 ivory sale was accompanied by a 66% increase in illegally traded ivory and a 71% increase in ivory smuggling. An investigation in 2010 by the Environmental Investigation Agency documented that 90% of the ivory being sold in China came from illegal sources.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) comparison of Elephant poaching figures for the five years preceding and five years following the sale showed an “abrupt, significant, permanent, robust and geographically widespread increase” in poaching.

The problem has not faded away. Most recently the two African Elephant species (savanna and forest) were declared endangered and critically endangered due to their continued poaching threat.

ZIMBABWE ELEPHANTS

Still, some African nations look fondly at the 2008 sale and have long hoped to repeat it. The Zimbabwe Ministry’s 2020 statement follows yet another proposal to the 18th CITES Conference of the Parties (COP18) by Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana to trade in live Elephants and their body parts, including ivory. The proposal was not accepted by the parties.

Why Didn’t Ivory Sales Work?

The one-off sales of ivory removed the stigma associated with its purchase, stimulated the market demand, and increased prices.

The ivory that China purchased in 2008 for $157/kg was drip-fed by the authorities to traders at prices ranging between $800 and $1,500 per kilogram. This meant that the bulk of the profits went to filling Chinese government coffers — not to African nations — and in doing so, created a large illegal market which drove prices even higher.

Raw ivory prices in China increased from $750/kg in 2010 to $2,100/kg in 2014. The market had been stimulated, prices increased and the volume of legal ivory available was insufficient to meet demand as the Chinese government gradually fed its stockpile into the market.

Japan, the other participant in the one-off sales, has systematically failed to comply with CITES regulations, meaning that there were (and still are) no controls over ivory being sold, allowing the illegal markets to function in parallel to the legal one.

In a very short space of time, criminals ramped up poaching and Elephant numbers plummeted.

What Has Happened to the Price of Ivory Since Then?

With no recent legal international sales, combined with the significant U.S., Chinese and United Kingdom domestic ivory sales bans, the price for raw ivory paid by craftsmen in China fell from $2,100/kg in 2014 to $730/kg in 2017. That’s when China closed all its official ivory carving outlets and theoretically stopped all official ivory trade.

The price currently paid for raw ivory in Asia, according to an investigation by the Wildlife Justice Commission, is currently between $597/kg and $689/kg, in U.S. dollars. Ivory sourced in Africa and sold in Asia has additional costs such as transportation, taxes and broker commissions. The prices paid for raw ivory in Africa have decreased correspondingly from $208/kg to $92/kg in 2020.

Those numbers pale in comparison to a living Elephant. A 2014 study found that live Elephants are each worth an estimated $1.6 million in ecotourism opportunities.

Funding Conservation

One half-truth is that the money earned from the legal sale will be used to effectively fund conservation.

One of the CITES conditions of the 2008 sale was that funds were to go to the conservation of Elephants. South Africa placed a substantial portion of the income from its share of the pie in the Mpumalanga Problem Animal Fund — which, it turns out, was well-named. An internal investigation found the fund had “no proper controls” and that “tens of millions” of rand (the official currency of South Africa) had bypassed the normal procurement processes.

Ironically, proceeds were also partly used for the refurbishment of the Skukuza abattoir, where most of the 14,629 Elephant carcasses from culling operations between 1967 and 1997 were processed.

All the while, Africa’s Elephant populations continued to decline.

How to Stop Poaching

In light of these deficiencies — and in light of Elephants’ recently declared endangered status — the very reverse of actual conservation can be expected if any nation is again allowed to sell its ivory stockpiles. The cost of increased anti-poaching efforts required from the consequent increase in poaching will outweigh the benefit of any income from the sale of ivory stockpiles.

To stop poaching, all international and local trade must be stopped.

Repeating this failed experiment will send a message that it is acceptable to trade in ivory. Ivory carving outlets in China will re-open and demand for ivory will be stimulated. The demand for ivory in an increasingly wealthy and better-connected Asia will quickly outstrip legal supply and poaching will increase.

Meanwhile, the management of a legal ivory trade requires strong systems of control at every point in the commodity chain to ensure that illegal ivory is not laundered into the legal market. With recalcitrant Japan continuing to ignore CITES, “untransparent” Namibia “losing tolerance” with CITES, and Zimbabwe ranking 157 out of 179 on the corruption perceptions index, not even the basics for controlled trade are in place.

Therefore, aside from the strong theoretical economic arguments against renewed one-off sales, the practical arguments are perhaps even stronger: If international ivory and rhino horn sales ever again become legal, the cost to protect Elephants will skyrocket and these culturally valuable animals will plunge into decline — and possibly extinction.

About the author: Charan Saunders grew up in Cape Town and studied genetics and microbiology and then went on to qualify as a chartered accountant. She has worked in London in the forensic science field and was the chief financial officer of a major vaccine manufacturer for six years. She now serves as a financial director in the field of conservation.

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Asian Elephant Mom Carries Dead Calf For Weeks, New Eye-Opening Videos Reveal

Asian Elephants, like their African cousins, seem to mourn their dead.

Female Elephants are very protective of their calves, and when youngsters die, some mothers continue carrying their babies’ corpses. 

Asian Elephants, like their African cousins, seem to mourn their dead, sometimes even carrying their lost infants in their trunks for days or weeks, new research finds. 

Whether Elephants  understand death in the same way humans do is unknown — and probably unknowable. But Asian Elephants are social creatures, and the new research adds to the evidence that they experience some sort of emotional response when they lose one of their own.

“Understanding Elephants’ response to death might have some far reaching effects on their conservation,” study co-authors Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and Nachiketha Sharma of the  Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study, wrote to Live Science in an email. “We have personally observed that when people witness an elephant responding to a dead kin, there will be some sense of relatedness, compassion and empathy towards the species. Therefore, anything which instantly connects people might pave the way for coexistence in elephant ranging countries.” 

Death ritual

African bush Elephants have long been observed reacting emotionally when a herd member dies. They might approach the body and touch it with their trunks, kick at the corpse or stand nearby as if on guard. Asian Elephants, however, are less well-understood. They tend to live in forested habitat, so they are harder to observe in the wild than savanna-dwelling African elephants.

“They can be 100 feet [30 meters] away from you, and you might not see them because the forest is so dense,” said Brian Aucone, the senior vice president for life sciences at the Denver Zoo, who was not involved in the new study. .

To get around this, Pokharel, Sharma, and their co-author Raman Sukumar, all of the Indian Institute of Science at the time, turned to YouTube, where remarkable animal videos are a staple. They searched the site for keywords related to Asian Elephants and death, and uncovered 39 videos of 24 cases between 2010 and 2021 in which one or more Asian Elephants were seen reacting to the loss of a herd mate. Eighty percent of the videos showed wild Elephants, 16% captive Elephants and 4% semi-captive Elephants (typically, semi-captive Elephants are animals that work in the timber industry or in tourist parks in Asia).

Some of the most striking behaviors seen in the videos occurred when a calf died. In five of the 12 videos showing a deceased calf, a female adult — likely the mother — was seen carrying the calf. Based on the state of decomposition of the corpse, it appeared that this carrying behavior went on for days or weeks.

Indian Forest Service ranger Parveen Kaswan uploaded one such video in 2019, showing an Asian Elephant dragging the body of a calf across a road in what he likened to a “funeral procession” in a post on Twitter at the time.

“I think they’re holding on and trying to grasp what has happened, and there’s something happening there with their interaction with their offspring, just like it would be with us,” Aucone said of the behavior.

Other commonEelephant reactions seen in the videos included restlessness or alertness when near the corpse; exploratory movements such as approaching or investigating the body; or touching and smelling. Elephants communicate through scent, Aucone said, so the sniffing is not surprising. In 10 cases, the elephants tried to lift, nudge or shake the body, as if to attempt to revive their lost comrade. In 22 cases, they seemed to stand vigil over the body.

AN ELEPHANT STROKING THE DEAD BODY WITH HIS TRUNK AS OTHERS STAND GUARD

“We’ve seen some of this before ourselves,” Aucone told Live Science. When the zoo euthanizes older Elephants due to illness or infirmity, the staff give herd mates a chance to say goodbye, Aucone said. The survivors often sniff the deceased Elephant or lay their trunks by its mouth, a social behavior.

Animal grief

Elephants aren’t the only social creatures that react to death, especially to the death of babies. Orca mothers have been observed pushing their dead calves around, as have dolphins. In 2018, an orca female named Tahlequah off the coast of Washington held on to her lost baby for 17 days. Other female orcas were seen huddled around Tahlequah and her dead newborn in the hours after the baby’s death in what looked like a circle of grief. Ape and monkey mothers sometimes carry around dead infants for weeks or months.

TAHLEQUAH PUSHED THE BODY OF HER DEAD BABY FOR 17 DAYS

In the case of the Elephants, which are devoted to caring for their young, the mother-calf bond is fundamental, Pokharel, Sharma and Sukumar wrote in the study, published Wednesday (May 18) in the journal Royal Society Open Science(opens in new tab). This is true of primates, as well, Pokharel and Sharma told Live Science.

“[T]he mother-calf/infant bonding in both Elephants and primates have some striking similarities as both nurture their young until they become strong enough to forage and defend themselves,” they wrote. “Therefore, this long lasting bond between mothers and calves/infants may potentially motivate mothers to respond towards their unresponsive calves. It is very difficult to predict the exact causations and functionality behind the dead infants carrying. But, some of the YouTube videos certainly provide evidence that some species may have some sense of death awareness.”

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PREGNANT ELEPHANT FOUND DEAD WITH ‘BLOOD COMING OUT OF ITS MOUTH AND ANUS’

THE PREGNANT SUMATRAN ELEPHANT IS SEEN LYING ON THE GROUND AT A PALM PLANTATION IN BENGKALIS, RIAU PROVINCE (PICTURE: EPA)

A critically endangered Elephant and its unborn baby were found dead in western Indonesia after a suspected poisoning.

Disturbing photographs show the animal with blood coming out of its mouth on the island of Sumatra.

Local authorities are now investigating the death of the pregnant Elephant, which was due to soon give birth.

Its corpse was discovered during a joint patrol by conservation groups on Wednesday.

Conservationists suspect the incident may be linked to the palm oil industry, which they say consider the animals a pest.

‘From the sign of changes in the shape of its internal organs, such as the lung, it looks like it is burning, black and oozing from the blood,’ said Zulhusni Syukri, programme director of Rimba Satwa Foundation, one of the groups that found the dead animal.

THE CARCASS OF A DEAD SUMATRAN ELEPHANT AND ITS UNBORN BABY IN BENGKALIS

Rimba Satwa strongly suspect the animal was poisoned as pineapple was found in its stomach, even though the tropical fruit does not grow in that area.

There are already fewer than 700 Sumatran Elephants remaining on the island.

According to Indonesian forestry and environment ministry, the number has gone down from 1,300 in 2014 to 693 last year.

This is why the species is protected under an Indonesian law on the conservation of biological natural resources and their ecosystems.

The decline has occurred amid a loss of more than 69% of the animal’s potential habitat in the last 25 years, the equivalent of one generation.

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Did You Know That The WWF Endorses Trophy Hunting?

In 2009, WWF sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of limited, managed hunting of black Rhinos in Namibia.

“WWF believes that sport hunting of Namibia’s black Rhino population will strongly contribute to the enhancement of the survival of the species,” the group wrote, citing the generation of income for conservation and the removal of post-breeding males.

COREY KNOWLTON PAID $350K TO KILL ENDANGERED BLACK RHINO

The WWF Endorses The Killing Of Wild Animals

KING JUAN CARLOS OF SPAIN, THE HONORARY PRESIDENT OF THE WWF

Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, sparked widespread criticism for going on an elephant hunting trip in Botswana. The king is the honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). When asked should the honorary president of the conservation group WWF be allowed to hunt elephants the press spokesman of WWF Germany said No but insisted that a regulated and controlled hunt can help to protect nature.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) gives special meaning to the word “conservation.” The organization, founded in 1961 by a group of wealthy trophy hunters, including HRH Prince Philip, apparently believes that conserving animals means keeping them around long enough for well-heeled “sportsmen” to blast them out of the woods, oceans, skies, plains of Africa, and jungles of Asia. Past WWF chapter presidents include C.R. “Pink” Gutermuth, who also served as president of the National Rifle Association, and trophy hunter Francis L. Kellogg, who is legendary for his massive kills. In its early days, the WWF even used fur auctions to raise funds. Since then, the WWF has learned that most people are appalled by hunting and trapping, so today, the organization veils its true stance under phrases like “sustainable development,” arguing that killing is acceptable under some circumstances. When answering difficult questions about its policy on hunting, trapping, and whaling, the WWF is careful never to state outright that it approves of all these activities. But don’t be fooled, the WWF’s intentions are all too clear and deadly.

Sport Hunting: As one would expect of an organization founded by hunters, the WWF does not oppose the slaughter of animals with guns and other weapons for sport. Rather than working to stop the killing, the WWF believes that hunting should be regulated, arguing that wealthy trophy hunters can bring income to poorer nations. The WWF claims that it has no power to stop hunting, stating, “The decision to allow trophy hunting is a sovereign one made entirely by the governments concerned. We will continue to monitor governments’ enforcement of important trade laws to ensure that trophy hunting is done within the legal standards of that area.”

Elephants: The WWF believes that culling—another way of saying “killing”—elephants is acceptable, as is the trade in ivory, because the profits that it brings spur governments to keep elephants from going extinct. In 2000, U.S. News & World Report reported that WWF representatives travelled to Nairobi to ask the United Nations to lift the ban on the ivory trade in order to allow a “sustainable harvest of ivory for horns and hunting trophies.” The WWF’s bizarre view—that we must kill some animals now in order to save animals to kill later—has proved false time and again. The trade in ivory has only encouraged rampant poaching, the senseless slaughter of elephants. The WWF tries to duck the issue by falsely stating, “The decision to cull, or to select animals from the herd for removal or death, is indeed an agonizing choice, but it is one made entirely by the governments concerned and there is no international involvement in those decisions.”

A GERMAN TROPHY HUNTER APPLAUDS HIS KILL

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION: WWF SABOTAGES PLANNED BAN ON TROPHY HUNTING IMPORTS IN BELGIUM

HRH 174f220ded880ba5fcd4632304a2f5b7

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Ivory From At Least 150 Poached Elephants Seized In A DRC Raid

  • A three-year investigation has led authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 2 metric tons of ivory hidden in a stash house in the southern city of Lubumbashi.
  • The tusks are valued at $6 million on the international market and estimated to have come from more than 150 elephants.
  • The three people arrested in the May 14 raid are allegedly members of a major wildlife trafficking ring in the Southern African region.
POACHED ELEPHANT ON ITS KNEES WITH ANOTHER LYING DEAD BEHIND IT

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have seized 2 metric tons of ivory in the city of Lubumbashi, a hub for ivory trafficking.

The May 14 seizure is one of the largest in recent years, according to Adams Cassinga, who heads Conserv Congo, an NGO that fights wildlife trafficking and which took part in the operation. The seized ivory is estimated to be worth $6 million.

Authorities arrested three people, believed to be members of one of the major wildlife trafficking rings in the region. The network is linked to the smuggling of 20 metric tons of ivory in the past five years alone.

The latest seizure represents more than 150 elephants killed for their tusks, Cassinga said. The tusks originated from countries in Southern Africa, which has seen a surge in ivory trafficking in the 2000s, fueled by demand from Asia, particularly China.

Ivory found in a stash house in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image courtesy of Adams Cassinga/Conserv Congo
Ivory found in a stash house in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image courtesy of Adams Cassinga/Conserv Congo

At the height of the crisis, 30,000 elephants were being killed every year, an average of 80 a day. African elephant populations have shrunk by 80% in the past 100 years, according to an analysis by WWF. The African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) is considered endangered on the IUCN Red List, while the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is critically endangered, only a step away from being extinct in the wild.

Poaching has declined in recent years, a 2021 report by Geneva-based nonprofit Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) found. One of the factors cited for the dip is the weakening of criminal networks because of raids and arrests.

DR CONGO AUTHORITIES SEIZE 1.5 TONNES OF ELEPHANT IVORY

“The reduced poaching seems to be the result of the dismembering through arrests and prosecutions of a large number of transnational organized criminal networks involved in ivory poaching and trafficking in East and southern Africa between 2014 and 2020,” the GI-TOC report said.

The Lubumbashi raid was led by the DRC’s top conservation authority, known by its French acronym, the ICCN. It included members of the national police force, court officials and the NGO Conserv Congo.

The team recovered the ivory from a stash house in Lubumbashi in the southern DRC. Traffickers brought the poached parts into the DRC from Zambia, which lies on the country’s southern border. Lubumbashi has emerged as a major hub from where poached wildlife parts are funneled out of Africa. The items originate primarily in Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“We are sure it will bring a great deal of deterrence in a place where previously wildlife laws were neglected and not applied,” Cassinga said in a tweet.

Weak enforcement of laws, armed conflict and corruption have allowed international gangs to operate with impunity in western and Central Africa. The DRC, which shares borders with nine countries, serves as an important transit point for the movement of trafficked parts. The Central African nation, which hosts the largest swath of Congo Basin rainforest, is also a source country for illegal wildlife goods.

Yet, from 2000 to 2014, when elephant poaching was rampant, the DRC recovered only around 8 metric tons of ivory in seizures. Then, between 2015 and 2019, authorities there confiscated 20 metric tons, according to data collected by the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO based in the U.K.

“We are making strong efforts to take down all the illegal trade networks. With time, we have bigger impacts on the illegal networks,” Olivier Mushiete, head of the ICCN, said in a phone interview with Mongabay.

The Lubumbashi raid follows a series of raids in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, last year. Mushiete told Reuters at that time that they expect to recover more than 60 metric tons in future seizures. The current operation was a result of three years of investigation.

“The relationship between the government and the civil society is improving. You can see that it is yielding results,” Cassinga said. He added that support from partners like Zambia-based Wildlife Crime Prevention and international donors like the Rhino Recovery Fund is helping them combat wildlife trafficking.

The skull of an elephant recently killed by poachers who ripped out its tusks in Province Orientale, DRC.
The skull of an elephant recently killed by poachers who ripped out its tusks in Province Orientale, DRC. Image by Matchbox Media Collective via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Ivory poaching is one of the most lucrative illicit trades, valued at around $23 billion a year, according to Bloomberg.

CITES, the global convention on the wildlife trade, banned the international commercial trade in ivory in 1989. However, some countries continue to allow domestic trade and international trade, subject to varying degrees of regulation.

In the past decade, efforts to curb ivory demand have gathered pace, with the U.S. imposing a near-complete ban on elephant ivory trade in 2016 and China banning the domestic trade in 2017. The EU tightened its rules on the ivory trade in 2021. Narrower exemptions limit the legal ivory trade, which conservationists say often serves as a cover for unlawful transactions.

The three suspected traffickers from the Lubumbashi raid are due to appear in court this week.

Even if seizures and arrests increase, the impact on poaching could be limited by countries’ failure to prosecute alleged traffickers. Coordinating cross-border investigations and amassing the necessary evidence is tricky. Wildlife crimes are often not prioritized by law enforcement agencies or judicial authorities.

The arrest of two Vietnamese nationals during the seizure of 3.3 metric tons of ivory from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, in 2019 did not result in convictions because both suspects skipped bail.

Raids also tend to net intermediaries but rarely lead to the capture of those who organize, fund and benefit the most from this illegal trade. “As far as dismantling the network, that is unlikely. It may be slowed down,” said Chris Morris, who works with the Kenya-based organization Saving Elephants through Education and Justice (SEEJ). “These cartels are a business. They are prepared for losses from seizures and arrests.”

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The Texas Trophy Hunter Whose Wall Of Death Sent Social Media Into Meltdown

As the Internet went into meltdown over the poaching of Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, another man was causing a stir after a photo published in National Geographic went viral at the same time.

Kerry Krottinger, a wealthy Texas hunter and businessman, has slaughtered so much African wildlife over the years that he amassed a veritable “wall of death” in his Dallas-area home. The National Geographic portrait depicts him sitting with his wife among the taxidermied bodies of Lions, Rhinos, Cheetah, Giraffes and enough Elephant tusks to open a traditional Chinese hospital.

The British-based charity LionAID, which uploaded the photo to their Facebook page, took a markedly dim view. “This is just one Texas trophy hunter with a ‘love’ of Africa,” they write. “Is it any wonder that Africa’s wildlife is disappearing? Just have a count of the various species displayed. Three Lions? So many Elephant tusks? A Giraffe? A Rhino? Kerry must be one of the leading conservation hunters on the planet!”

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Kerry and Libby Krottinger in their ‘Wall Of Death’ room

Little is known about Krottinger’s personal life. Aside from being an energy millionaire with multiple companies to his name, he and his wife Libby operate a Gypsy horse farm called Ndugu Ranch. A website about the property had been taken offline, but a cache copy can be viewed here. A Facebook page also associated with the ranch was also taken down. Next to a smiling photo of the pair, Krottinger wrote he named the ranch after the Swahili word for “brother” or “family member,” and that the couple has “a great love for Africa.”

Krottinger’s kingly haul of animal carcasses was acquired through what’s known as “conservation hunting,” a practice that is supposedly designed to protect species by allowing people to hunt animals for a high fee that’s then to be used for other conservation efforts. Palmer, who is now facing indictment in Zimbabwe for poaching, said in a statement that he had trusted his guides and assumed his activities had been legal.

Far from poachers, conservations hunters — and the websites that promote them — see themselves as environmentalists. LionAID’s director Pieter Kat said the whole premise was nonsense.

“Conservation hunting is a complete myth,” he told Mic. “If conservation hunting had been effective, Cecil the Lion would not have to have been poached out of a national park, because conservation hunting would have maintained a viable and sustainable Lion population within their own trophy hunting concession.” According to Kat, steep fees like the more than $50,000 Palmer paid to kill Cecil typically end up in the pockets of tour operators. “Sustainable hunting does not sustain anything,” he said.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was blunter still. “The idea of killing animals to ‘protect’ their species is like having 5-year-olds build a child-labor museum,” she said in a statement to Mic. “True conservationists are the people who pay to keep animals alive through highly lucrative eco-tourism, not the power-hungry people who pay for the cheap thrill of taking magnificent animals’ lives and putting their heads on a wall.”

On Twitter, the response was one of almost universal disgust, with the photo generating near Cecil-levels of rage.

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Kat was unapologetic about the Krottinger-shaming on LionAID’s Facebook page. “What we were trying to do there is to alert people to the fact that trophy hunters have this sort of enjoyment of their activity, and what we would like to expose to people is these sorts of people belong in the 19th century,” he said.

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Legendary Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Slash’s Plea To Help Save Elephants

ICONIC ROCKER SLASH IS DOING HIS BIT TO HELP CURB ELEPHANT POACHING

If former Guns & Roses guitarist Slash hadn’t put all his heart and soul into music and becoming one of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, perhaps he would’ve sought a career in zoology?

He is a trustee of the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and shot a commercial for Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens with veteran actress Betty White to promote their new exhibit The Lair, which displays over 60 species of weird, rare and endangered amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles. He has shot other ads and PSAs before for the zoo.

“I used to not believe in zoos as a concept, but now because there are so many endangered animals; there’s so much poaching,” Slash tells Samaritanmag. “With zoos now, it’s really about conservation. They become safe houses for a lot of species so, I think, now, zoos are really necessary places, not totally about just family entertainment at any cost. It’s about education; it’s about conservation.”

Anyone familiar with Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s former band, knows he used to own snakes — as many as 80, which he got rid of when he became a father. He has been on the cover of Reptiles magazine and even had a band called Slash’s Snakepit post GNR. But he’s actually a lover of all animals.

Slash has been visiting the LA Zoo since the age of 5 and later in childhood went every weekend, sometimes twice. As a touring musician, he often visits the local zoos on his downtime.

in 2011, Slash received the inaugural Tom F. Mankiewicz Leadership Award from GLAZA at the 41st Annual Beastly Ball recognizing his long-time support of the zoo and the welfare of the world’s natural and civic environment (filmmaker Mankiewicz was GLAZA chairman who died in 2010).

The award will recognises his long-time contributions to environmental welfare programs and his support to the LA Zoo and zoos around the world.

GLAZA (Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association) President Connie Morgan declared:
‘Tom [Mankiewicz] advocated opportunities for interaction among our diverse communities and championed the cause of animals and the environment through education and on-the-ground conservation. He strongly believed the Los Angeles Zoo exemplifies both missions as a place where people come together having a good time while learning the importance of saving and protecting wildlife.’

To which Slash responded:
‘The biggest compliment for me is that it’s Tom’s award. I really adored that man. I miss him very much, and that aspect is very special and resonates deeply. Additionally, I profoundly appreciate the implications of the award itself. It’s a fantastic honour.’

But Zoo director John Lewis could not stop there:
‘Slash is a great example of our mission of nurturing wildlife and enriching the human experience. He is a champion for wildlife and conservation and has introduced our mission, his passion, to millions of his fans’.

“I just try to help the zoo,” says Slash of his role as a trustee. “We all on the board support and help the zoo’s best interests. We just try to keep all that together. It’s a pretty big thing. It’s a city-owned zoo and we’re trying to make it a private zoo and there’s just always something going on with that.”

In 2012, while on a trip to Australia, Slash took wildlife warrior Bob Irwin up on an invite, but left the meeting by signing on to aid Irwin’s new conservation initiative.

SLASH loves reptiles. So does Bob. And that’s enough.

A deep affinity for the cold-blooded creatures has forged an unlikely friendship between the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist and wildlife warrior Bob Irwin.

Irwin, who is the father of late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ host Steve Irwin, reached out to the guitarist when he learned the tour was coming to Australia, and invited him down to Queensland to visit the crocodiles and snakes.

After lending his support, Irwin returned the favour by urging his followers to catch one of Slash’s performances while he was visiting the country.

SLASH Bob Irwin Wildlife Conservation Foundation 2012 (1)
Slash and Bob Irwin at the launch of the Bob Irwin Foundation

In 2013, Slash performed in South Africa with rock super group Kings of Chaos and spent extra time seeing the local wildlife. Although he had been aware of the diminishing numbers of Elephants in the world, the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist learned on this trip that the situation was becoming increasingly more dire. While poaching rangers had increased their efforts to stop the illegal ivory trade, Slash believed that people needed to be more aware of the situation.

The guitarist also released the “Beneath the Savage Sun” video, which details the illegal ivory trade and tells the story of an Elephant who has lost a loved one from the Elephant’s point of view.

“How many killing seasons can you justify?” he asks. “How many dead and bleeding / only for an ivory lie?

“I was shocked that the poachers still manage to get away with it,” he told Rolling Stone in the above video. “A lot of people don’t know that every time they purchase anything that has even a smidgen of ivory in it, it comes from a dead Elephant. I think if people were more aware of that, it would have a dramatic effect on the whole ivory trade.”

Slash’s singer, Myles Kennedy, was equally affected by the situation. Kennedy wrote the lyrics for what would become “Beneath the Savage Sun,” a doomy hard rocker told from the perspective of an Elephant who witnessed the death of a fellow pachyderm.

SLASH AND MYLES KENNEDY

Slash made a powerful video for the track – which is featured on the guitarist’s last solo album, 2014’s World on Fire – illustrating the brutality of the ivory trade with written facts, images of both living and murdered Elephants and poachers’ spoils. The video notes that the U.S. is the world’s second-largest consumer of ivory, so Slash hopes the clip serves as a wake-up call.

“We wanted to give the viewer an idea of the atrocities that are going on, to hit them full in the face with it,” says Slash, an animal lover who is on the board at the Los Angeles Zoo and has long been active in animal conservation. “It’s more of an immersive experience. The most important thing is to reach as many people as possible.

“Elephants are so beautiful, intelligent and sensitive,” the guitarist continues. “They have emotions we’re all familiar with. They care for their young. They move in big family groups that live on for generation after generation. They very visibly mourn their dead. When you actually meet Elephants and get to know them a little bit, they have a whole myriad of personalities.” (Slash was previously part of the campaign for Billy the Elephant.)

In addition to educating people about Elephants, Slash has also partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), an organization he reached out to personally because he had worked with them in the past and liked how they were “hands on” in their causes.

Jeff Flocken, IFAW’s regional director, North America, has been working with the Obama Administration to draft and implement laws to regulate ivory. “Any legal trade of ivory encourages illegal trade,” he says. “Our laws are riddled with loopholes like Swiss cheese.”

He believes that if the U.S. led by example, real change is possible. “Last November, the U.S. crushed six tons of ivory that was seized illegally here in the U.S., and within months, China crushed 6.1 tons of their own ivory,” he tells Rolling Stone, adding that China is the world’s Number One ivory consumer. “It’s the first time they’ve ever done that. It shows that other countries are watching what we’re doing.”

Trade in elephant ivory is driving these amazing animals to extinction; largely at the hands of criminal networks that kill local wildlife rangers and support organized crime, smuggle drugs and transport illegal firearms. They do all this to meet the lucrative demands of consumers in China, the United States and elsewhere, many who don’t even realize that every piece of ivory comes from a dead elephant, but who still value the stuff as jewellery, trinkets, and yes, instruments.

Flocken added that the anti-ivory movement has begun facing opposition from the N.R.A., who want to protect ivory for ornamentation on gun handles, among other causes. Slash says that ivory ornamentation is not necessary and uses musical instruments as an example.

We love our instruments. We know that many of you love your guitars with ivory bridges and pianos with ivory keys, but we need you to think about where things came from and what are your ethics when buying and selling them?” Piano keys don’t have to be ivory,” he says. “It’s not important. And for inlays on guitars and tuning pegs, it’s absolutely not necessary and I won’t use it.” Do we really want to profit off of the extinction of such a beautiful and majestic species?

To prove his point, Slash donated proceeds from the sale of the song to the IFAW and has redesigned his website to provide more information about the ivory trade and serve as a place where people can donate to the organization. Supporters can also donate to the IFAW.

“Donating is great – that’s hugely necessary – but the other thing to do is to stop purchasing ivory,” Slash says. “Do not buy it. I think the more people that stop buying ivory is going to have a significant effect on the Elephant poaching trade.”

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

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An Obituary To Tolstoy, One Of Africa’s Few Remaining Tuskers

TOLSTOY

18th March 2021: Just after dawn, Tolstoy lumbers into view. A wandering giant, with tusks almost scraping the earth, this great elephant has roamed beneath Mount Kilimanjaro for nearly 50 years.

He has survived ivory poachers, spear attacks and terrible drought, but the mighty bull could be confronting a new threat to his natural realm: surging demand for avocados.

A turf war has erupted over a 180-acre (73-hectare) avocado farm near Amboseli, one of Kenya’s premier national parks, where elephants and other wildlife graze against the striking backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

In 2020 Kenyan agribusiness KiliAvo Fresh Ltd received approval from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to start its own avocado farm on land in Kimana, southern Kenya it purchased from local Masai owners. [Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP]

Opponents of the farm say it obstructs the free movement of iconic tuskers like Tolstoy – putting their very existence at risk – and clashes with traditional ways of using the land.

Adjacent landowners and wildlife experts say elephants have already collided with KiliAvo’s electric fence – proof that it impedes migratory routes used by an estimated 2,000 tuskers as they depart Amboseli into surrounding lands to breed and find water and pasture. “Can you imagine if elephants in Amboseli died of starvation so that people in Europe can eat avocados?” Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu, who heads the campaign group WildlifeDirect, said.

HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT

16th March 2022: The Elephant named Tolstoy is a living natural wonder, carrying some of the largest tusks on the planet. So when Big Life’s rangers don’t see him for a while, they go looking.

They searched beyond their normal patrol areas and eventually found him resting under a tree. All appeared fine, until he took a step… something was badly wrong. Tolstoy could barely walk. Upon getting closer, the rangers could see the problem: a puncture wound in the joint on his front right leg.

Tolstoy being treated for his leg wound

A wound like this was no accident. Tolstoy frequently plays a high-stakes game called crop-raiding. When he wins, he comes away with a bellyful of highly nutritious crops. But when he loses, he gets speared.

Tolstoy doesn’t know it, but his crop raids can cost a farmer their entire season’s income in one night, and these farmers (justifiably) care little that Tolstoy is one of Africa’s dwindling number of ‘super tuskers’. It’s not the first time this has happened: in 2018 he was treated for three spear wounds, also a result of crop-raiding.

The Kenya Wildlife Service vet unit, funded by our partners at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was quick to respond, but the decision to treat him was not made immediately. Darting an animal of this size, particularly with a wound in a sensitive joint, is extremely risky because the Elephant may not be able to stand after treatment. The decision was made to wait 24 hours and see if his condition improved.

Big Life’s rangers stayed by his side, spending the entire night out with him, but the wound showed no signs of improvement. The decision was made to dart him, and it was done quickly and professionally.  His wound was thoroughly cleaned and treated, and Tolstoy was given antibiotics and painkillers before a jab to wake him up.

Tolstoy comes round watched by members of the KWS team

With great effort, he finally stood and stared back at the treatment team, before retreating into the shade. For now, his prognosis looks good, but he’s not out of the woods just yet as he continues to heal. Big Life rangers will continue to monitor him while he recovers. And they will continue to spend their nights out in the farms, keeping Elephants safe and helping farmers to protect their crops, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The elephant named Tolstoy is a living natural wonder, carrying some of the largest tusks on the planet. So when Big Life’s rangers don’t see him for a while, they go looking.

They searched beyond their normal patrol areas and eventually found him resting under a tree. All appeared fine, until he took a step… something was badly wrong. Tolstoy could barely walk. Upon getting closer, the rangers could see the problem: a puncture wound in the joint on his front right leg.

A wound like this was no accident. Tolstoy frequently plays a high-stakes game called crop-raiding. When he wins, he comes away with a bellyful of highly nutritious crops. But when he loses, he gets speared.

Tolstoy doesn’t know it, but his crop raids can cost a farmer their entire season’s income in one night, and these farmers (justifiably) care little that Tolstoy is one of Africa’s dwindling number of ‘super tuskers’. It’s not the first time this has happened: in 2018 he was treated for three spear wounds, also a result of crop-raiding.

THE SADDEST DAY

27TH April 2022: “This is so painful.”

These few words spoken by ranger Daudi Ninaai describe well how we are all feeling at Big Life. Tolstoy, one of Africa’s biggest ‘tusker’ Elephants, and an icon of the Amboseli ecosystem, has died at 51 years old.

He was speared in the leg 6 weeks ago, almost certainly by a farmer defending his crops from one of Tolstoy’s night-time crop raids. The wound was treated, but the resultant infection has ultimately had the worst possible consequences.

Big Life’s rangers in Kimana Sanctuary have been monitoring Tolstoy since his treatment. Yesterday morning, they found him lying down. This was not unusual for an Elephant who took frequent horizontal naps despite his enormous size, but upon getting closer, the rangers could see signs of his failed struggle to stand up. They knew that this time was different.

Tolstoy was still alive and two Kenya Wildlife Service vet units (both funded by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) responded. He was given further treatment, but getting him on his feet again was unlikely from the start. For hours the rangers and vets tried to pull him up with vehicles and ropes, with no success. A front-end loader was called in as a last desperate attempt, but Tolstoy was just too weak to stand.

With the rescue team running out of ideas, and night fast approaching, Tolstoy finally ran out of strength and died, surrounded by the rangers who have looked over him for so long.

Ranger Job Lekanayia is one of these: “Today is the saddest day in my job as a ranger, having lost one of the Elephants that I treasured the most. We tried everything that we could. I thought he would wake up, but he just couldn’t lift himself up.”

After 50 years on earth, there isn’t much that Tolstoy hadn’t seen. And there isn’t much that looks the same. His home has been transformed by the human species, and it is the consequences of rapidly expanding farmlands that eventually killed him.

His death is a reminder of the vulnerability of even the largest of animals, as well as the urgent need to protect habitat for wildlife and manage the interface between wild animals and human activities. There are solutions, and we are making progress despite a tragic setback such as this.

Over his long time on this planet, Tolstoy had a positive impact on countless people, and will be remembered as a calm and gentle giant. As ranger Lekanayia says, “All I can say is: rest in peace Tolstoy, we will miss you.”

TOLSTOY

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REMEMBERING SATAO, THE ELEPHANT KILLED BY POACHERS FOR HIS TUSKS SO LONG THEY TOUCHED THE GROUND

THE MAGNIFICENT SATAO ~ RICHARD MOLLER/TSAVO TRUST

Satao was one of the largest Elephants in the world. His weight was estimated to be over 7 tons and his tusks were so long he could rest them on the ground.

By logic, his size should have made him unreachable for any natural predators. However, in a world of destruction and corruption, logic doesn’t prevent the extinction of the African Elephant. Satao fell prey to poachers for his ivory in May 2014, which triggered a huge wave of grief in Kenya followed by international outrage in the news and on Twitter and Facebook.

Born in the late 1960s in Tsavo, Satao caused great amazement to everyone who ever caught a glimpse of him; rangers, tourists but also poachers. Many believe that Satao had the understanding that his tusks were beyond the ordinary. In fact, he had adjusted his behaviour to keep his tusks out of sight, which was incredibly impressive and heart-breaking at the same time. Impressive, because this once again proved how very intelligent Elephants really are, and sad, because Satao was nonetheless poisoned by arrows that caused his death.

The Tsavo Trust had been monitoring the Elephant’s movements using aerial reconnaissance for the last 18 months, and thanks to his enormous tucks the beast was ‘easily identifiable’ from the air.

But the technology was not enough to save the iconic beast from the hands of the poachers.

A Tsavo Trust spokesman said at the time: ‘With great sadness, we report the death of Satao, one of Tsavo’s most iconic and well-loved tuskers.

‘This magnificent Elephant was widely known in Tsavo East National Park, where he was observed with awe by many thousands of Tsavo’s visitors over the years.

‘No longer will Tsavo and Kenya benefit from his mighty presence.’

‘Satao, whose tusks were so long they trailed the ground, was discovered with his face hacked off at Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park’

He added: ‘The arrow had entered his left flank and he stood no chance of survival. We spotted his carcass on 2nd June but to avoid any potential false alarms, we first took pains to verify the carcass really was his.

‘Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries.

‘A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece.’

‘Rest in peace, Old Friend, you will be missed, he added.

Photos of his hacked off face and tusks circled the Internet and recorded the bitter loss and undignified death of this incredibly rare tusker.

AN UNDIGNIFEID END: SATAO WAS FOUND WITH HIS FACE AND TUSKS HACKED OFF!

Wildlife filmmaker based in Kenya Mark Deeble who had written a blog post Satao: last of the great tuskers about how poachers had been hunting Satao for some time and how he was injured but managed to escape until now:

He said “I was thankful that the bull’s wounds were healing and that we hadn’t had to dart him, but I was devastated that poachers had somehow managed to predict his movements and get close enough to fire two poison arrows into him. I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods, GPS smartphones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles.

I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows.

More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic Elephants.”

His fears came to reality on the 30th of May 2014!!

RIP Satao, you will NEVER be forgotten.

SATAO DRINKS AT A WATER HOLE IN TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK, KENYA, IN 2013, WHEN THE MAGNIFICENT TUSKER WAS IN HIS PRIME – MARK DEEBLE

NO ONE IN THE WORLD NEEDS AN ELEPHANT TUSK BUT AN ELEPHANT. ~ THOMAS SCHMID

A variety of styles of Nobody In The World Needs An Elephant Tusk Except Elephants tops are available at Save The Elephant with all proceeds helping Elephant charities.

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SAVE THE ASIAN ELEPHANTS: A NEW LAW BECKONS – BY DUNCAN MCNAIR

“Don’t bother – Elephants are finished.”

“You must be joking. Anyway it’s India’s problem.”

“It’s big money talking, and you’ll never change that.”

“Surely the travel industry will sort it out if you ask them?”

BRUTALLY ABUSED FOR YOUR PLEASURE

These were amongst the unpromising responses enjoined on Duncan McNair after returning from his first trip to India, in 2014, to assess for himself the horrors to Asian Elephants in modern tourism of which he had started hearing and, appalled, urging that something must be done.

This Duncan’s story:

The sad refrain had some truth: the species is indeed in desperate peril. Yes too, vested interests like the UK travel industry could do so much, and so could India and the other range states. But these are not policies if nothing is being done. And the UK cannot compel a mighty sovereign State like India, less still Sri Lanka, Thailand or Myanmar, to adopt our own ideals of elephant welfare – aside from the UK’s own cupboards rattling with skeletons like brutal industrialised farming or a legacy of trophy hunting.

India has excellent animal welfare laws, according Elephants the highest degree of protection, but they are widely circumvented by political interference and protection of vested interests.

But, I thought, surely the world’s most revered species, the Asian Elephant, need not – should not – meet its end under the cruelest of all animal abuse, babies screaming and crying under extreme torture to break their spirits (known as “the phajan”) for easy use in tourism?

THE PHAJAN BEATS ELEPHANTS INTO SUBMISSION FOR YOUR ‘PLEASURE’ IN THE TOURIST ‘INDUSTRY’

Back in London I tramped and trailed round many animal welfare organisations searching for a star to hitch my wagon to, but received reproofs. One charity urged me to be realistic and not waste time. A Government minister charged with animal welfare issues told me she had far better things to do than help Elephants.

But I started receiving encouragement too, and exhortation. It was so plain that public awareness of the horrors was so low yet when people heard of them, they were as appalled as I. So in early 2015 Save The Asian Elephants was born, with an immediate strategy by every means to drive up awareness of facts omitted from all travel brochures and websites, draped over for years with a mantle of secrecy. After all, in a functioning democracy a proper cause constantly advanced, linked to coherent, credible policies, should prevail over time.

Without funds STAE developed an ethos of voluntary, unpaid help – no wages or perks for anyone, and working off the lowest cost base. Just passion and commitment.

ELEPHANTS PAINTING LIKE THIS IS NOT NATURAL BEHAVIOUR

A wonderful team of eminences and experts soon emerged from every quarter, and many others of all ages and specialisms. My childhood dreams of a veterinary career (I had spent forever in libraries poring over the lives of famous vets then seeking them out via the telephone directory hoping for inspirational meetings) were dashed when my ineptitude at sciences became evident. But later I could see my life as a lawyer having worth far beyond fighting for my clients. I was thankful others of my profession came forward to join STAE.

Policies were developed that were not contingent on concurrence of vested interests or governments of indigenous states, but on what we in the UK could achieve by relentless exposition of the facts and proper pressure upon government.

A landmark policy of STAE’s (alongside those previously outlined in Animal Spirit) is new law: to ban the advertising, promotion and sale of unethical Asian elephant-related venues. Self-regulation by the travel industry having failed, and endless promises of change broken, compulsion of law is essential to stem supply (and then demand) of the vast trade in such abuse. Shockingly, to date STAE has identified over 1,000 tour companies promoting 210 venues where extreme brutality is committed to baby and adult Elephants to hundreds of thousands of UK tourists. Abused Elephants regularly attack and kill. These fetid places are also a storm of risks for tourists to acquire deadly airborne viruses like Covid 19 as well as TB that broken down Elephants readily transmit through coughing, sneezing and spraying water.

STAE has been in ongoing negotiation with the Prime Minister’s officials and government departments on our Asian Elephants (Tourism) Bill, drafted for Lord Zac Goldsmith. Hopes of new law soon for the UK are running high based on government assurances. Polls show STAE’s Bill is backed by 90% of Britons, confirmed by STAE’s petition and others aligned to it running at 32 million signatures, and 100 people and organisations of influence including all the major faiths of SE Asia.

DUNCAN MCNAIR, STAE CEO AT DOWNING STREET

STAE considers this law transposable to other countries across the West and beyond. Together they can stem this tide of abuse. And although Asian Elephants suffer uniquely from abusive tourism, such law can stand adapted for other species too.

Who knows the destiny of this ancient species, denizens of the Earth long before Man? But what Man has done so wrong, he can put right. Whilst Christian precepts apply to the protection of all of God’s creation, no religious faith is needed to believe that we should stand and fight for these gentle creatures, “megagardeners of the forests” on which we all rely. We hope and pray there is time for the Elephants.

Duncan McNair KHS is a lawyer and founder and CEO of Save The Asian Elephants.

STAE’s petition for change can be signed at: bit.ly/STAEpetition

Suggested cut and paste letters of support to Minister Zac Goldsmith and to your MP are at: http://stae.org/uk-minister/ and http://stae.org/your-mp/.