More Sniffer Dogs for Ivory at all airports and shipping ports in Africa
More Sniffer Dogs for Ivory at all airports and shipping ports in Africa
Waging the War Against Blood Ivory
Photo by Gregory Colbert
“Elephants have long term supportive bonds between family members, so it’s not just a species facing extinction, it’s massive individual suffering.”
We are a worldwide group of almost 14.000 members, and steadily growing - we are ELEPHANT WARRIORS, and we are fighting to save the elephants (and rhinos) from being poached into extinction in the wild, and abused into a spiritual extinction on another front. Our Facebook page is appropriately named ELEPHANT WARRIOR™, founded by Ms. Bine Grigel.
We believe that the current war being self-waged against the natural order of our planet is bringing about mass destruction of the earth’s natural resources, and that this war must come to an end for the sake of all. If we can work towards a collective purpose, the critical question lies therein, whether the damage done is indelible. Can we accomplish our goal of working together, globally, for the purpose of saving the planet earth’s non expendable resources, and crucial creatures, including both endangered flora and fauna? Currently severe crimes against nature, including the exacerbation of elephant and rhino poaching, have brought forth an awareness that can no longer be overlooked – we’d like to think of this as Mother Nature’s Revolution.
Indeed, a new consciousness has been born; one with principles and respect for both nature and wildlife, hand-in-hand. A renewed worldwide appreciation of elephants and rhinos in wild Africa is a major part of this revolution.
Elephants are extremely sophisticated land mammals who live in families, grieve for their dead, and show great emotion, raising the female calves by their mother’s side for life. They have highly developed and deep social connections, coupled with an immense intelligence that most humans cannot even grasp. Infused with compassion and caring for one another, these gentle giants have virtually no defense against the high powered rifle, poison arrows, and poison water of the poachers. These vulnerable and sensitive creatures have virtually no voice in the human world, and we have seized much of their domain, squeezing them out of their own territories, and turning their land in to ‘killing fields’. As the world population increases in third world nations where elephants live, the fight between humans and elephants, over land, is only going to get worse - hence we need to plan for this, realizing the ultimate importance of elephants and rhinos.
African elephants and rhinos are increasingly killed for their ivory by chainsawing their faces off, sometimes while they are still alive. African poachers have no heart or respect for their own wildlife resources at all, and many of our group believe they should be shot on sight when caught poaching an elephant or rhino. The price of ivory taken from African elephants, slaughtered for their tusks, has tripled in the past four years in China, the world’s largest importer of ivory.
The sniffer dog is trained for sniffing out illegal ivory, comprising a unit in the Gabonese National park known as Agence Nationals Des Parc Nationaux. The dogs, provided by Wagtail UK Ltd, are so efficient that they can sniff out illegal ivory in a matter of seconds. ELEPHANT WARRIORs believe that the units of these dogs and their trainers/handlers need to be substantially increased, in order to cover all the bases or exits of ivory smugglers, including shipping ports and airports.
Elephants belong to the natural world and are one of the truly great wonders of this world, as well as an environmental legacy. During this dire situation with smuggling, we must crack down on all illegal activities involving the exploitation of the ivory bearing mammals. Involvements in the export and sales of highly lucrative ‘blood ivory’ should be considered ‘major crimes’, with ‘appropriate penalties’. Blood ivory is named for the bloody cruel way it is taken, as well as the bloodshed it is fueling in Africa – this includes numerous murders of courageous rangers and officials who literally dedicate their lives to protecting Africa’s elephants.
Knowing how few elephants are left in the wild has, unfortunately, only served to escalate the annihilation of the wild African elephant as well as the rhino. The price of ivory taken from African elephants, slaughtered for their tusks, has tripled in the past four years in China, the world’s largest importer of ivory. These sentient beings have become victims of species genocide, fueled by greed and funded by organized crime.
There were recently only eighteen Namibia Desert elephants left in the wild, although some conservationists say there are as many as one hundred, with eighteen males remaining – even if the former were true, only eighteen males is hardly enough to keep a population going, without inbreeding taking place, and inbreeding could weaken the species to the point of extinction, in an of itself. Amazingly enough, some scientists believe that the Namib elephants in the Kunene region (of Namibia) might contain their own genome - they have developed special adaptations (including bigger feet to dig their own wells), for the harsh environment in which they so tenuously survive. ELEPHANT WARRIOR's have given names to eighteen of this unique and small group of elephants, in hopes that the world will personalize them more, and kill them less. Two have been killed since the naming. One, by the name of Delta, was killed by local officials in Namibia for protecting his family, when a hunter was about to shoot one of his family members. Due to government corruption, at least seven of these iconic male elephants have bounties on their heads, by hunters who have exchanged votes to corrupt politicians for rights to kill these most rare African treasures. In fact, one of these elephants was just added to a school raffle in Namibia, for hunting rights. “We firmly believe that the hunting rights of the Namibia Desert elephants should be completely revoked, and the hunters shunned for wanting to kill such a rare national treasure,” says Dawn Dowling, of ELEPHANT WARRIOR. “These elephants are a legacy that cannot be duplicated. Not ever,” she adds. It is getting to the point, however, where there is no longer global tolerance for this kind of literal ‘cut throat’ corruption – at least not amongst wildlife conservation activists, who are an increasingly impressive group of people - the philosophies of conservationists and environmental activists might be described by Albert Schweitzer this way: “Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain it’s full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
Asian elephants are under major assault in Thailand. For centuries these elephants were seen as a sign of ultimate power, fertility and success, according to Theruada Buddhism beliefs. Ironically, while elephants have been worshiped for centuries in Thailand and surrounding countries, they are being annihilated simultaneous. While 100 years ago the Asian elephant was still a sign of status to Thai kings, they also roamed freely in large numbers, in the jungles of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Today, however, only four to five thousand Asian elephants remain in Thailand. There are only approximately 50% remaining in the wild, and 50 % domesticated and trained. In the past century the Asian elephant has declined by 90 %.
At the recent CITES meeting in Geneva, it was found that Thailand has become a major perpetrator of elephants and elephant rights – it is among eight countries that have been singled out by CITES as instrumental in fueling the illegal ivory trade – these eight countries include China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, and Thailand. The officials demanded that the “Gang of Eight”, as CITES refers to these countries, outline specific action plans to address the ivory trade – or potentially face trade sanctions. CITES has failed to do anything about the fact that Thailand has failed to do anything about the mass murder of elephants, however. In fact, Thailand doesn’t even have the legislation it needs to regulate its domestic ivory market, let alone guard against illegal international trade, said Paul Todd, Director of International Policy and Program Planning at the nonprofit International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Thailand basically has an unregulated market because it claims that all their ivory comes from captive elephants, which isn’t possible,” says Todd. According to a report released July 2nd, by the nonprofit TRAFFIC, however, the number of ivory items for sale has nearly tripled in the past 18 months – in January 2013, 61 retail outlets were found selling ivory to previously identified locations around Bangkok – but by May 2014, the same locations had 120 retail outlets selling ivory. Another recently released TRAFFIC report shows that Thailand is capturing wild elephants for the tourism trade – most are taken from Burma. Thailand’s officials, at the recent CITES meeting, had no comment, displaying their usual apathy for conservation.
“Though Thailand is a huge culprit in this holocaust, to d-esculate China is poking a head in the sand,” According to National Geographic editorial commentator, Tory Braden. “I question Thailand as 2nd to China’s insatiable appetite for ivory,” says Braden. “And with China’s leaders such as Zhao Shucong licensing its massive state-sanctioned carving factories, the carvers fuel the trade. The poached tusks would have no where to go if China did not allow the selling of them, or do better enforcement of its own black market. As in the 80s, when Japan fueled the trade, now it is China, and China of all countries should not be let off the hook for its first place status in this holocaust,” Braden says.
For those unfamiliar with CITES, it is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, which held it’s most recent meeting in July, 2014, in Geneva, in which very little was accomplished, especially not for the elephants, which were brushed off entirely for another year - an entire year that could be the most devastating year yet, for wild African elephants. We, at ELEPHANT WARRIOR demand that CITES do their job, and especially under such extreme duress. I ask you, if we cannot save the elephants from extinction, what can we save? As nature is intertwined with man, will we be around to know what it is like to lose our humanity? The answer to this question is up to each and every person on this earth.
We thank you for signing the attached petition to CITES, to pressure them to use their influence to add more sniffer dogs and their handlers/trainers to airports, marinas, and shipping ports, so that the “Gang of Eight” will be cut off from smuggling ivory – once these corrupt countries are cut off from exporting, then and only then will they stop poaching. We trust in your help. This is the end of the elephant line.
A Veritable Slaughter
Mountain Bull, a six-ton tusker, was recently killed in Kruger National park, which is considered the ‘Jewel of the Crown’ of national parks in South Africa. This Iconic elephant was a half a century old. The legendary Satao, known to be the largest tusker in the world, and also a half-a century old, was also brutally killed at around the same time. Satao was killed with poisoned arrows on May 30th, 2014 and could have very well been alive when the poachers took his 100 lb. tusks by hacking his face off. Satao was famed for his enormous tusks, which were so big and long that they touched the ground. The murder of these last two legendary tuskers have been mourned worldwide the loss of these last two legendary tuskers on earth, and fearing what could come next in the blood- money
According to Fiona Macleod, Investigative Environmental journalist for Oxpeckers Center for Environmental Journalism, we are losing elephants at the rate of three to four a day in Niassa, Africa (which borders with Tanjania). Now that the great tuskers have been taken, the poachers are moving south, to smaller reserves in Mozambique, and to the Limpabo and Kruger National parks. There has been an unprecedented surge in the number of elephants killed by poachers for their ivory in the last few years, according to a report published by CITES.
According to an article written recently for National Geographic, by Christina Russo, wildlife conservationists worldwide are urgently working to combat the massive trade in ivory and the slaughter of elephants, classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These highly intelligent gentle giants are being slaughtered in Africa at a rate of 20,000 to 50,000 annually. These statistics are gathered by CITES as well as other environmental groups, and the governments themselves of the countries where these sentient beings reside, and increasingly hide.
The major perpetrators are organized crime syndicated and rebel militia, looking for ways to fund insurgencies in Africa. The biggest market for the illicit ivory trade is Asia, where tuskers sell for several thousands of dollars per kilo. The Asians are believed to use the ivory in decorations and traditional medicine. The ivory trade is essentially organized crime that is financing horrific attacks by terrorists, according to Kenya-based Wildlife Direct conservation activist, Paula Kahumbu.
Rhinos have also been heavily targeted in Kruger, this past year, mostly out of neighboring Mozambique. According to “Save the Rhino”, 1,004 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2013, with a marked increase this year (conservatively estimated at 400, since this was initially written). According to Shelley Waterland, of “Born Free” fame, “We regularly receive horrific reports of terribly mutilated rhinos, many whom have suffered the agony of having their horns mercilessly hacked off while they were still alive.” If we can stop the international outlet and sales of ivory, we can stop most of the poaching. This is where the sniffer dogs come in – if the African governments can allocate more money for these dogs and their trainers/handlers to cover more marinas, shipping ports and airports, this could conceivably put an end to the lucrative poaching epidemic. Whether it will be too late is anybody’s guess, but we have to try everything, and we have to try now, says Bine Grigel, spokesperson for ELEPHANT WARRIOR.
While Namibia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism Government, Netumbo Nandi, is sending in military forces to tackle the enormous increase in poaching of African elephants and both the black and southern white rhinos, the sniffer dogs are going to be doing their duty as well. What ELEPHANT WARRIOR wants is for these dogs to do double duty, maybe triple – there needs to be more dogs, more trainers, more dog handlers, and quick, says ELEPHANT WARRIOR’s Dawn Dowling.
Another issue is the right to shoot poachers on sight, as well as stiffer penalties for the carriers of ivory, the middle men and the smugglers. Recently two Vietnamese nationals were given stiff jail sentences in South Africa, for trying to smuggle 18 rhino horns out of the country. However, even with effective enforcement, current values for rhino horn mean that criminals will continue to believe it is worth the risk. Hence, the penalty needs to be stiffer yet!
Since the issue of elephant poaching was recently put off entirely for a year, by Cites, wild elephant extinction is increasingly close at hand. ELEPHANT WARRIOR is adamant about the need for sniffer dogs to break the chain of blood money ivory, and consequently, genocide. Hence, the name of the game is to get extremely tough on poachers - tougher than ever before conceived of - cutting their life line off completely. “It’s either get tough or lose the war, and it is a war,” says Bine Grigel of ELEPHANT WARRIOR. “It’s a war in which we are close at hand to losing one of the true wonders of the world, and our children’s legacy, to extinction,” Grigel concludes.
“Remember that the elephants (and rhino’s) survival in the wild depends on conservation activism,” says Dawn Dowling of ELEPHANT WARRIOR. “And also remember that we are the voices of Satao, Sunder, and Mountain Bull, among so many others,” says Dowling. “If there are so few wild elephants that we can actually start naming them – and have - then you know there aren’t many left in the wild…”
Again, Please sign the attached petition to persuade CITES to lean on these high risk countries, to increase the number of sniffer dogs, as this is the only remaining strategy left for sniffing out extinction of these incredible, misunderstood, and extremely vulnerable animals.