The sharply differing reactions to the partial lifting of the ban on elephant ivory trade are emblematic of the ongoing struggle over how to best protect Africa's elephants and the interests of their human neighbors.
Last June, after two weeks of heated argument, delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference in Harare, Zimbabwe voted to "downlist" elephant populations in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe from the endangered species category and to allow each country to hold a one-time sale of ivory to Japan.
Four years after leaving the helm of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), anthropologist and Kenyan Parliament member Richard Leakey has been reappointed to the post.
He succeeds conservationist David Western, who left the directorship in September. Leakey first served in the position from 1989 to 1994. Leakey, despite past differences with the government of President Daniel arap Moi, told reporters he believes he has an obligation to Kenya and that "in the hope that I can indeed be helpful at this time, I have accepted the position."
A related CITES decision that has received little attention but could have a far-reaching impact allows a one-time, noncommercial sale of ivory by any African country that had registered its stockpiles by Sept. 18.
IN TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS, severe weather in South Africa resulted in the loss of human life and the death of thousands of wild animals, among them 14 black-maned Kalahari Desert lions.
SEVEN MOUNTAIN GORILLAS have been born in Rwanda since April, a promising sign for the survival of this highly endangered species. The world's only remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Zaire and Uganda. Rwanda is struggling to recover from the 1994 civil war that killed 500,000 people. Hundreds of thousands more were displaced, and many fled through the gorillas' habitat.