#SayNoToIvory! Let us be their voice, let us be loud and let us crowd source!

March 31, 20135 Comments

Let us be their voice, let us be loud and let us crowd source!

Recent brutality against elephants

A week or so ago in March 2013, 28 elephants were killed in Cameroon. Following this massacre, yet another unfolded near Chad, where 86 elephants were slaughtered, several amongst them pregnant mothers.

The brutality marks the gruesome anniversary of a year ago, where at least 500 elephants were butchered; all within the span of two weeks in Bouba N’Djida National Park in northeastern Cameroon: militants on horseback traveled hundreds of miles to inflict the slaughter. Rangers and soldiers deployed to the park were outgunned, out-numbered and overwhelmed.

A biologist who was at the scene told the New York Times: “In the end, an elephant mother, riddled with bullets and trumpeting with pain and fear, was left to use her enormous body to shield her baby. Her sacrifice was for naught; the baby was also killed”.

Decimation of elephant populations over the years

Not many decades ago between 5-7 million elephants roamed the wilds of Africa; today, those numbers have dwindled to less than 400,000. The demand for ivory trinkets -driven primarily by China- is causing elephants to die in a bloody frenzy throughout the continent. The situation is most dire for forest elephants. African forest elephant populations have dwindled by 62% within the last 10 years; the implication of course is extinction for the forest elephant in the next 10. The savannah elephants have no more than 20.

The tragedy is enormous and unfathomable. The elephant remains beloved by humans and quintessential of the majesty of forests and plains in Asia and Africa. The creature is the Earth’s largest and most charismatic terrestrial herbivore, and yet, it is on its way to extinction in the wild.

Almost all great bulls in Africa are now gone and poachers increasingly target mothers and older females, a herd’s caregivers and matriarchs.  The death of a matriarch is far more than the death of a single elephant; it is the end of a culture, an archive and a living database that hosts and serves the knowledge of foraging sites, water wells, migratory paths and survival skills. The untimely death of matriarchs, mothers and aunts often leaves in its wake orphans, orphans who are so irrevocably bonded to their families, they often succumb to grief.

What can we do to help stem the killing of elephants for ivory? For mere trinkets?

So, where does this leave us? What do we do? As this grisly war on our world and that which we love unfolds, bringing with it a new tragedy almost every day, we must come together to do more, more than share and post and tweet amongst each other.

I suggest we begin by envisioning two “lofty” goals and work out the minutia as we progress. First, we must call for and achieve a ban on ivory trading whether raw or carved, “legal” or otherwise. We will focus locally in the USA, where the sale of ivory within this nation’s borders is still “legal”; we will work within counties and states even as we work to establish a ban globally. Secondly and aligned with our first goal we will call for the end to ivory carving factories in China by drawing repeated attention to the fact that these cannot continue to operate unless fueled by poaching.

And, last but not least, we will crowd source for ideas on how to harness the public support and passion we need to bring about the reality we’d like to see both for our beloved elephants and for ourselves.

What this means for you is this; you have been summoned to the hallowed halls of activism! Here are some resources to get started with, firstly for research, but more importantly for action: our next blog will feature specific action items sourced from your ideas and ours. Thank you for caring.

Be creative, be diplomatic, and may your trumpeting be loud!



1)   Clinton State Department Address: http://bit.ly/YNmSSi

2)   Kerry’s senate hearing with Iain Douglas Hamilton: http://1.usa.gov/XlA3r5

3)   Chinese Ivory Carving Factory web site: http://www.daxincarving.com/doce/index.asp

4)   The Battle for the Elephant

5)   Bryan Christy, National Geographic, investigative reports:  http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/ivory/christy-text

6)   Scientific American Blog: http://bit.ly/Zar0sx

7)   NYT Editorial: http://nyti.ms/YP1FYh

8)   The Epoch Times: http://bit.ly/YP1YlN

9)   Reuters: http://reut.rs/147NGBQ

Filed in: Advocacy TrainingAllCurriculumIssue EducationIvory TradeLegislationPolitics & Legislation
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About the Author ()

I grew up on the island nation of Sir-Lanka, a land mass shaped like a tear drop less than a 100 kilometers south east of its giant neighbor, India. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of elephants; through the eyes of a child steeped in an ancient Asian culture, it never occurred to me at the time to question the chains, the mahout, nor the bull hook that incessantly prodded a majestic creature into submission, systematically breaking its will. Such is the power of culture and its overarching sanctions. Many years later I found myself in the United States, having left a violent and bloody civil war in my country in search of opportunities elsewhere. Living in Hawaii for a long while and working as a software engineer for the observatories on the "white mountain", Mauna Kea, a love for nature which had been submerged by the vagaries of life reemerged to stay. In time, I found my way to Namibia, in south west Africa for a very short while: working there with a scientist, a group of us helped shape a study of the elephants of the skeleton coast, Truly wild, these creatures roamed the greened banks and beds of the Hoanib and Hoarusib rivers which ran dry in the winters and raged rapids in the humid summer. I recall an enormous bull frequenting our camp site on a moonlit night, its ivory tusks gleaming silver to the glow of a distant lantern, Earth's moon. Vivid in my memory is the terror as well as the sudden recognition of a bewildering and lasting love for a creature caught between its desire to live and the fast mounting odds of a changing world working against that raw reality. And now, in 2013, the African elephant is fighting the fight of its life for survival. The craving for carved ivory in Asia, and most significantly China is killing these splendid creatures in the thousands. Against this backdrop, I, together with those who blog for JulietteSpeaks raise our voices trumpeting in solidarity, calling for those who hear to raise theirs in unison, so we may together, make a difference. For a living I work as a software engineer for NASA's SOFIA mission at NASA/Ames in Mountain View, California.

Comments (5)

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  1. Maria M says:

    All this killing and blood shed for Trinkets. The elephants needs us to speak out for them to make a stand before they are poached to extinction. The world needs to unite on this and a public out cry is needed in order to save these creatures before it is to late.

  2. Leslie says:

    This insanity has to stop! Elephants deserve to live peacefully without being slaughtered for their ivory. Please wake up, world, and save these wonderful animals!

  3. Maria says:

    Thank you for caring!!. The senseless slaughter needs to stop! SAY NO TO IVORY!!!!

  4. sherif says:

    Corrupt governments encourage this horror.

  5. elise says:

    thank you so much for being an amazing voice for the Elephants. How many are we going to allow to be slaughtered for trinkets? 25,000 killed last year, probably more this upcoming year. Orphans are left to die. How can they sustain themselves. Will the world be happy when the last elephant is gone? Will our children’s children only know elephants from movies, or storybooks or museums? The time to stand up and SHOUT NO TO IVORY is NOW

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