Tag Archives: elephant protection

One shipment of 500 elephants to go, please

This time, the shipment is not for a circus, some foreign zoo, or to assist with diplomatic relations and/or to boost a nation’s GDP.

This time, it is to help save them.

500 elephants in Malawi are to be transported to a sanctuary to protect them from poaching and human-wildlife conflict. How? Dart them, winch them into a truck, and drive them for about 300km/185mi to have them delivered to a new sanctuary. This will be the largest elephant relocation in Africa’s history and will take over 12 months.

Slowly, but surely, they will move. And hopefully slowly, but surely, they will survive in a world where humans think that they can treat animals as a commodity.

Malawi is a small country and has 1.5k out of 470k elephants in Africa. But do not underestimate the country for its size- because although it is a tiny land-locked country, they have sufficient funds allocated for protecting elephants, plus the commitment of the government, who have a cooperative relationship with African Parks, an INGO that manages these reserves. That’s two golden nuggets right there- and probably enough to see it all the way through from start to finish.

And so the move begins.

Travel safely, safari njema, beautiful elephants, and hopefully, you will all flourish on the other side.

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The unspoken topic: Corruption

A quick reminder of the facts: Tanzania lost 60% of their elephants in the last 5 years; Central Africa, 64% in 10 years. Although market prices for ivory have halved, the demand for ivory, driven by the rising middle class in Asia, continues unabated. How is the ivory getting there? Mostly through the insanely busy port of Mombasa- one of the key mouths of trade for the continent. Neighbouring land-locked countries are channelling the tusks there by road, unfortunately with relative ease, and successfully loaded into cargo holds. From 2009-14, 170 tonnes of ivory were seized by international authorities. That’s 230,000 elephants.

Although Kenya has made the trade illegal, the ivory is still getting through. Why? A much-avoided issue, and obviously so, in bilateral and multilateral dialogue is this: corruption.

It’s there, it exists and it takes decades for it to trickle out of a government’s way of operating. While the policy is in place, weak governance creates a whole lot of gaps in implementation- gaps that act like wide open doors for the mass movement of tusks and surely keeps the trade alive.

If we wish to halt the trade, we need to halt corruption. Many countries have shown positive results in the pursuit. Sadly, it takes a long time, usually a few changes of office. Perhaps this won’t happen fast enough before the elephants vanish altogether.