VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
By Joyce Poole Petter Granli and I left Cottars 1920s Safari Camp on the border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, the northern extension of the great Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. We were heading toward the Sand River crossing, where elephants had been seen the evening before. The route was not direct, as tracks twisted and…
Little Fellow was a good-looking young bull with splayed tusks and ear lobes that curled out. But he would not live long enough to pass his genes on to the next generation. Born in the late 1990s, Little Fellow entered a world that was pretty safe for elephants. But today, 24 years on, it certainly isn’t. The ongoing slaughter is threatening the survival of the species, as well as tourism, economies, and stability in many African countries.
The conservation charity ElephantVoices has launched a campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, “Every Tusk Costs a Life; Don’t Buy Ivory” and “Every Tusk Costs a Life; Stop the Trade” target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. China is believed to be the largest market for illegal ivory, a trade which is causing the poaching of more than 2,000 wild elephants per month.
What does it actually mean to “harmonize” elephant mortality and why should we do it? The simple answer is that with many people engaged in elephant conservation in Kenya, we need to agree on the actual figures, so that we can document what is going on and react in an appropriate way. In reality the situation is a bit more complex.