The process in 2012 that led us to the call for the creation of the Elephant Advocacy League (EAL), including field trips to Africa, interviews, research and writing, took about four months.
During these four months an estimated 12,000 elephants in Africa have been slaughtered for their ivory.
Despite the fact that it’s illegal to trade ivory, roughly 100 elephants are poached every day in Africa.
The reason for this elephant holocaust is primarily the ivory demand from Asia.
How fast could the elephant disappear from Africa?
In Sierra Leone, in 2011, the country’s entire elephant population was confirmed wiped out.
Senegal is apparently now down to only two individuals.
Chad, which had over 40,000 elephants twenty years ago, now has only 400.
The issue is not just in the numbers, or just in the risk of having elephants become extinct in the future in much of their territories, but also in the fact that we are killing one of the most intelligent, sensitive and emotional creatures on the planet, as science is beginning to assess. We are literally killing ‘Intelligence’.
There are powerful, ethical, and moral implications in the elephant’s tragedy, but yet it’s sadly not a priority for the human society of the 21st century.
And this is not just an unimaginable tragedy for the complex and intelligent elephant society but it’s also a robbery of vast proportion, from a practical and symbolic point of view.
A precious and irreplaceable living treasure that belongs to the entire world and to the next generations is stolen daily in front of our eyes, just to enrich a relatively small group of criminals and accomplices in Africa and abroad to satisfy the vanity of wealthy consumers.
This is a crime against a very intelligent creature with a unique mind that surprisingly shares many important traits with us.
This is a crime against Africans who are robbed of an asset that is crucial for their environment and their economies.
This is a crime against the people, including dedicated park rangers, who lose their lives defending elephants.
This is a crime against our children and grandchildren, who risk a future with no elephants in the wild.
So it’s a crime against people, not just elephants. We think that if someone buys or trades in ivory, he actually kills people.
IF YOU BUY IVORY, YOU KILL PEOPLE.
Governments and NGOs are occasionally successful in their local anti-poaching and anti-trafficking activities, which we strongly support, but in general we are not winning this war and the trend is very worrying. We need to go to the root of the problem, the ivory Asian’s market, and engage the whole civil society, in the East and in the West.
We also think that the current Narrative about what is happening to the elephants and about the ivory trade is weak and incomplete, mainly focused on numbers (Quantitative Approach) and not so much on other important qualitative aspects of this tragic story, equally strong, like the human toll on the ground (people dying protecting elephants, poor people committing crimes), the unique human-like emotional traits of the elephants and the international crime linked to ivory (smugglers and traders often traffic in drugs and weapons too and they represent now an international security threat).
Finally there is the centuries old issue of elephants’ exploitation, in the form of circuses, working & tourist camps, zoos and all kinds of private facilities. We imprison these amazing creatures often in dire conditions, we keep them isolated, we mock them in circuses, we take away everything an elephant is.
We firmly oppose and fight any use of elephants in circuses and the capture and taming of wild elephants for working and tourist/safari camps.
We share the scientific view that elephants require complex social and environmental settings to thrive and that modern zoos, in order to fulfill their education & research mission, must aim at large “elephant parks” measured in square kilometers rather than hectares.
This is why we established the Elephant Advocacy League.
To save the elephant ‘is an urgent moral imperative’
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor.