Richard Leakey is trying to answer the hard question of why lately the poaching for ivory increasing?
Elephant poaching in Africa has been increasing at an alarming rate. Kenya, whose elephant population has – according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) – increased from 16,000 elephants before the 1989 CITES ban on ivory trade to the current 32,000 – has seen its fair share of this poaching. It is now becoming a big problem and we are likely to see a sharp decline in the population of the African elephant if poaching remains unchecked. But how did this sudden increase occur and how can we solve it?
First, this problem is not a problem of Kenya alone. It is happening all over Africa. Whereas the KWS blames the CITES-sanctioned one-off auction of ivory from southern African states to China and Japan for the sudden upsurge of poaching, there are indeed other factors that come into play. The upsurge in poaching is not a direct consequence of the auction although it did trigger the growth in demand.
What happened is that the auction made legal ivory available in the market and that was the danger. The sudden availability of a significant amount of ivory revitalized a market that had disappeared. Now, there is no way that legal ivory could satisfy demand in this enlarged market. Illegal ivory, consequently, found a new outlet and soon started fetching better prices at the source.
Although the influx on Chinese workers in Africa is also blamed for rising poaching, this is unlikely to be contributing significantly to the problem. The Chinese workers are lowly paid and thus they don’t have the large amounts of money required to buy ivory from poachers.
Far more important, there is quite a busy ivory market in China triggered by the one-off auction of Ivory last year. Twenty years ago ivory was not very affordable in China. Only a few rich people could buy. Today, China’s per capita income has been growing by about 8% per year. There are now tens of millions of Chinese people who can buy ivory. This is where the problem is.
In 1980s majority of these new buyers were young and did not know about the ivory crisis. The one-off sale however alerted this new market to the availability of ivory.
Poverty has also increased in Africa as the population grows faster than the economy. People are increasingly becoming desperate and are therefore getting more involved in poaching to put food on the table. The current drought in Kenya has made the situation even worse.
We also know that majority of African elephant range states have no effective policing mechanisms to contain this problem. in Kenya, the KWS has no money to fund any effective law enforcement that is required to contain poaching and the illegal ivory trade.
A solution needs to be found and the way forward is to try and get the total ban on ivory trade reinstated. Once the ban is reinstated, ivory disappears from the market. Possession of ivory becomes a crime. Policing thus gains some effectiveness. Furthermore, lack of a market will drive the price of raw ivory in Africa down.
People have asked me if KWS should repeat the public burning of ivory to make a statement, especially now that it is the 20-year anniversary of this event. I say it depends on how this is handled. Of course, we did raise some money back then, but the idea was new then. It is now an old idea and old ideas have to be handled carefully. It would however be a PR disaster for the KWS to sell the ivory to a third party.
In the old days, we created a fine force that was able to bring down the level of poaching until Kenya’s elephant population started increasing. The situation is different today. Twenty years ago, elephant poaching was done by Somalis who were not very well equipped. Today, the poachers are mostly local people especially in the north of the country.
In the north, there are very many guns used primarily in cattle rustling – by both the rustlers and those protecting their cattle. These guns are now being used in poaching. This is worsened by KWS allowing the nomadic pastoralists into wildlife reserves especially during this drought. This is a big mistake. KWS should clear the reserves in order to get these guns away from elephants.
Until something is done, poaching will continue to escalate. The time to act is now.
We at www.IvoryCarvings.org looking at the poaching for ivory & THE WAR AGAINST THE IVORY POACHING as a problem.
Of course that we are against elephant poaching for ivory but still we do like ivory carving.
With the ban of ivory the prices are going up, frauds are being very common & it’s become very difficult to sell or to buy Ivory worldWide.
So what can we do?
As a matter of fact, as a moral people we can’t approve or accept the poaching of the elephant in order to get Ivory.
We do love Ivory but we love our world & especially Elephants we don’t want to encourage any illegal Ivory trading nor poaching elephant for Ivory.
The best solution for mean time is to buy Mammoth ivory Carving!!! Mammoth ivory is Legal worldwide & no animal is being poaching. The woolly mammoth is extinct from this world before 10,000 years ago & It’s really an amazing Ivory to carved on.
It’s very similar to the elephant ivory tusk but the tusks are nuch bigger that the elephant’s tusks & it’s can reach more than 5-6 Meter length.
Look at this picture of Mammoth ivory carving artifacts: Figurines, Netsuke & tusk sall made out of Mammoth Ivory tusk: