An average of 30,000 African elephants are illegally killed every year, and that number is ever rising. Outdated strategies are not getting the job done. I believe that a new barter system that converts poachers into defenders of elephants in return for resources that aid local villages would be a great way to help this species. It is important that the U.S. State Department take this into consideration as they strive to combat wildlife trafficking.
The illegal poaching of African elephants is an ever growing epidemic that is endangering the survival of the species. Research shows a strong correlation between the slaughter of elephants and the economic status of the local peoples. Organizations such as Seacology have recognized this trend seen with endangered animals around the world. Seacology works with the local villagers on islands around the world to conserve the native island species. Their success comes from helping locals to get what they desperately need to thrive as a people while educating them on how to coexist with native species and help to conserve them. I believe that this successful initiative needs to be brought to the continent of Africa if there will be any hope of bringing this species back from the brink of extinction. A program that put in place a barter system that benefitted poachers and incentivized the protection of the African elephant by aiding the local people who coexist with the elephants would help greatly in the conservation of these animals.
Local villages, which poachers themselves come from and call home, see the elephant as a nuisance. Elephants roam their farmlands and compete with their livestock for resources. Many villagers support the killing of the elephant because they are harming their way of life. A barter system with incentives that aided affected villages would be a major step towards harmonious living between man and creature. Current poachers would be employed by the sponsors and coordinators of the program in order to ensure the protection of the African elephants and ward off poachers. They would be helping conserve the species while making a steady salary, and in turn, the program will also work with local villages in the establishment of schools, hospitals, and other resources that would improve their way of life. Coordinators of the program would help bring resources such as accessible clean water and agricultural technology to these villages while educating the locals on the conservation of elephants. In this way, the survival of the African elephant is made a local issue. This barter system would convert villages around the country into safe havens for these creatures.
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