Have you ever visited an elephant graveyard?
To some African communities, the presence of wildlife is perceived as a threat to their livelihoods. Elephants are crop eating, water tank tipping nuisances. Lions are cattle attacking predators. Routine chores involve the added danger of stumbling upon a hippo or crocodile at the riverbank.
To others, where there is wildlife, they see opportunity. For many African nations, tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. In fact, Tanzania’s earnings topped 1.88 billion US Dollars in 2013, superseding gold as their number one foreign exchange earner.
I am amazed at how many people still turn their heads to the poaching crisis. Why should we care if elephants fall of the face of the earth? Just one more species bound for extinction...that's life. Survival of the fittest, right? Wrong!
When I heard about the news that China for the first time crushed 6.1 tons of ivory in public, I was just back from three months' field investigative reporting in Africa on Chinese involvement in wildlife trafficking—essentially focused on ivory and rhino horns. I was glad to see tangible action being taken in addition to general embassy announcements stating "Chinese always care about environment and wildlife." Finally, I feel that, we have something solid to show to the world. However, I also deeply understand that this big crush is not enough.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a terrible epidemic of poaching in Africa. That’s when AWF did our “Only Elephants Should Wear Ivory” campaign, and we found a way to slam the brakes on this poaching.