CAN WE STOP OUR ELEPHANTS’ SLAUGHTER?

In an article we wrote on our Newsletter in June last year,  about the sad reports we were getting regarding a second extinction of the rhino in Mozambique (since they had been eradicated from our territory in the past and then reintroduced), we mentioned the possibility of extinction in our territory of yet another species, the elephant.

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Studies published at the time adverted that 4 to 5 elephants were being killed a day, most of them in our national parks, and warned that if urgent measures were not taken to change the course of things, elephants in Mozambique would be extinct in five years time. Statements of both international scientists and national park guards corroborated these allegations. A small documentary in one of the national television channels, with shocking footage of dead elephants and carcases, was also broadcasted at the time.

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But, as always in our country, a year as gone by and nothing has been done. In fact, the situation worsened and despite all the warnings by the civil society and the media, our elephants keep getting slaughtered. The competent authorities, whose duty is to act, are not acting. They do not even comment on the issue so that they do not have to explain how they are (not) tackling it. Maybe they are hoping that it will solve itself… And if it depends on them, so it will be: in four years time (five was last year) we will have no elephants left, and therefore, no problems to address. The way we see it, this is the only thing that can be going through their minds, otherwise, why are they not acting upon something so serious?

Unfortunately, we did not expect different. After all, this invariable incapability to take urgent measures that are necessary to solve serious environmental problems, whether on behalf of our elephants, forests or the environment in general, is a trademark of our government.

When we have no natural resource whatsoever (animals, forests or rivers), then we will not have the need to protect them, and consequently, we will not have any environmental problem. Correct? No? So why are we not acting?

Can someone please explain it?

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About this subject, in August of this year, an elucidative new study about the illegal ivory market global spreading was launched. This study, titled Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory, by Varun Vira, Thomas Ewing, and Jackson Miller, adds even more ashes to the fire by revealing some shocking recent data of the worlds counterfeit of this product.

The study states that the period between 2009 and 2013 was the worst in history since ivory trade was banned, and that in 2013 alone, over 50 tons of ivory were apprehended. Despite being hard to estimate the correct number of elephants that were killed to produce this kind of quantity, we know that at least 20.000 elephants are killed annually and that its world population is dropping, possibly on its way to extinction.

To make things worst, for example in China, ivory price has risen from USD $5/Kg in 1989 to USD $2.100/Kg in 2014. By itself, this stimulates an absurd increase in ivory traffic and converts what was “only” an environmental problem, into a case of organized crime with Africa as its focal point and countries like Mozambique, fragile due to its weak wildlife monitoring, as its main targets.

Given the seriousness of the situation and the feeble or nonexistent action of many of our governments, citizens from over 100 cities of the world gathered and organized a global march on the 4th of October, to protest against the present indiscriminate slaughter and to demand that serious measures are taken before it is too late.

But time does not stop and while we are writing this article, the clock keeps ticking in Mozambique and elephants keep getting slaughtered in our parks. Asking WHY and getting upset with what is not being done is not enough anymore. It is time to act, to move into action, to make use of our rights and duties as wise and caring citizens. Our government negligence and lack of attitude in these matters is a direct reflection of our apathy as a society in demanding that they be solved. And if our love for mother earth is not a strong enough motive to compel us, we should be reminded that there are many African nations that have long realized that their biodiversity is an enormous wealth, and among them, countries like South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya, for example, have huge tourism incomes thanks to their clever management of those resources. By allowing the extinction of species in our territory, we are allowing those who perpetrate it to make us all poorer.

Out of the five year estimate for the extinction of elephants in Mozambique, we have now four left and nothing has been done. But as the proverb says, “together we are strong”. We believe that the majority of Mozambicans is aware of the importance of preserving our biodiversity, our natural wealth and we ask all of you to unite under this banner and demand of our goverment swift, practical and effective measures to save the elephants. Lets act to stop this reckless and merciless slaughter.

A luta continua, this time around for elephants and rhinos.

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