Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bibi van der Zee - The plight of elephants

An estimated 25,000 elephants are killed every year in Africa for their tusks, double the number killed in 2007

The future of this particular species is precariously balanced. Although in some areas (a very few) elephant herds are expanding and thriving, the overall picture is one of decline, with falls of as much as 60% in elephant population in countries such as Tanzania.

Elephants are increasingly dependent on humans for survival.
Photograph: DSWT/Barcroft Images

With your help, we want to probe some of the different factors that have led us here. We’ve opened with an essay from wildlife specialist Patrick Barkham, looking at the awe-inspiring lineage of the modern elephant, and a summary of the current situation. In the months to come we’ll be looking at this species in close detail - both past and future. How can we conserve that future? What really works? What happens if you pull away a ‘keystone species’?

We’ll also be looking into the modern ivory trade. Who are the criminals behind these international networks? Where does the ivory go (not always where you’d think) and how does it get there? We’ll dig into the economics of different policy approaches, the people who make the big decisions, and the countries who have managed to change their ivory culture and cut demand.

Finally we’ll be talking to the people on the frontline in Africa, Asia and Europe; the rangers and investigators and campaigners, some of whom risk their lives regularly to protect Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus. An inspiring network of conservationists from China, Africa, the US is at work on behalf of elephants, and other species, and is growing in strength and power. With your support we can make that global network stronger and more powerful still.