POACHING

The London Declaration and the United States new Wildlife Trafficking Policy signed by President Obama both demonstrate the gravity of the poaching situation and that the international community is taking it seriously. President Obama says “The entire world has a stake in protecting the world’s iconic animals” Here in Tanzania, The new Minister of natural resources and tourism Prof Jomanne Maghembe says “One of the measures taken by the government is to scale up the war against poaching and plundering of natural resources. As a government we are determined to eliminate the entire syndicate of poaching in this country.”

From this distance, the view through the telescope one might say, the modern poaching crisis is easy to grasp: Supply and Demand. Take ivory. That ivory and ivory artifacts are part of East Asian culture is a fact too ubiquitous to comment on.  And if, over the last decade, there are millions upon millions of new entrants into the middle class, a higher demand seems an economic inevitability.

The laws of economics also imply, in a globalized system, the draw of this demand will make itself felt wherever supply is feasible. And the place where supply is feasible are the wildlife rich countries of East and Central Africa. In Africa not only do you have Elephant, you have poverty and law enforcement institutions still in development.

The new and disastrous imbalance between this demand and the potential supply is well documented. ESO anticipates contributing into this pool of understanding. Meanwhile, the following sites provide insight and details from various perspectives:

  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora): is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. www.cites.org
  • TRAFFIC: the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. www.traffic.org
  • African Wildlife Fund: Mission: together with the people of Africa, works to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever. www.awf.org
  • International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF): has a structured approach to conservation, employing the relevant tactics and technology to defend wildlife from the ever increasing threat of poaching within protected areas. Anti-poaching however is only a portion of the conservation solution. www.iapf.org

When you look at the big picture, one can understand why it is happening.

But when you look at it in detail, through the microscope, it is different. Elephant tusks are rooted at the base of their jaw. Poachers kill with AK47s, or poison, and hack off their faces to get at the root and take the whole tusk. Brutally disfigured corpses are found everyday across all the habitats these creatures roam. Mathematics implies the rate of killing is terminal. Elephant mourn their dead, calves suffer the loss of their mothers as you read this someone is hacking, bone chips and blood flying. Tomorrow under the orange sun, the stench will grow.