China recently announced that it will end its trade in ivory by December 31, 2017. As the largest importer and consumer of ivory in the world, this is significant, but somehow, the criminal networks that are destroying African wildlife didn’t get the memo.
African wildlife continues to be poached at an alarming rate, with 100 elephants murdered every day for their tusks. This is excruciatingly evident in places like the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, which has lost 90 percent of its elephants and almost all of its critically endangered black rhinos in just the last few years.
If history tells us anything, it’s that a ban on ivory should devastate demand, causing markets to implode, prices to bottom out, and poaching to greatly decline as a result. That’s what happened back in the late 1980s and early 1990s following an international ban on the commercial elephant ivory trade. That didn’t last once trade in “stockpiled” ivory was approved, but this time around, we shouldn’t have that problem.
Nonetheless, the violence and killing continues as heavily armed, well-trained criminal networks now find it more profitable to trade in ivory than illegal drugs. They have better funding, technology, and weaponry than wildlife law enforcement agents, and as a result, few targeted animals survive.
Poaching has become so rampant, in fact, that it exceeds elephant population growth rates, and many predict that the African elephant will be extinct from the wild by 2025.
Concerned citizens of the world are coming up with new and innovative uses for technologies like Google Glass and microchipping and drones, to help fight and end these crimes. And there are far less technical, and far less expensive, tactics that work, too, including anti-poaching dog units and citizens on patrol. What this boils down to is that solutions exist, and it’s vital that the Tanzanian government take more extensive steps to preserve these endangered species before it’s too late.
Sign this petition urging the Tanzanian government to strengthen its wildlife management programs in order to better protect wildlife residing in the Selous Game Reserve and surrounding regions.
In addition, check out some of the things that you can personally do to help bring an end to wildlife poaching.
Image source: john michael evan potter/Shutterstock