Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Great African Crisis

I am thrilled to be in Africa currently, visiting my parents after three long years. Although I have been to this continent many times previously, its majestic wildlife, beaches and cheerful people never fail to delight me. I consider myself very lucky to have been on great African safaris many times before and am beyond ecstatic about visiting the Serengeti National Park end of this month. I think Africa is one of the few places left on Earth where people can feel truly connected to the beauty of nature and our fellow beings that roam the planet. 

This is why it saddens me that the very essence of this beautiful land is threatened by the inhumane and gruesome act of poaching. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, at the current rate, elephants, rhinos and other iconic African wildlife might be gone in our lifetime. This is simply unacceptable. 

Ivory, from elephant tusks and the rhino horn are sold in the black market for $1,000 and $50,000 per pound, respectively. To put things into perspective gold is sold for about $22,000 per pound. The significant money involved in the trade lures poachers into getting involved in such activities. A pair of tusks can be worth a few years' salaries in most African countries. This is the strength of the organised criminal gangs that are thriving on the money generated from this illegal trade. It is easy for them to bribe rangers and tempt local people into getting what they want. What makes them more dangerous is their use of high powered technology and weapons which enables them to kill many animals at once, without being detected. 

Apart from the endangerment of precious animal species, poaching poses a significant threat to Africa's tourism industry. In 2014, tourism contributed close to 5% of Kenya and Tanzania's GDP. Adding pressure to the problem is the growing evidence that suggests that wildlife poaching is funding criminal and terrorist organisations in several parts of Africa. Thus suggesting that the situation at hand must not just be treated as a conservation issue but also a security issue. 

There is no one solution to tackle this complex problem but several measures that need to be taken to bring the situation under control. The first would be to educate and create awareness among the consumers themselves. China alone accounts for about 70% of global ivory demand. The African governments will need to invest heavily in more sophisticated technology such as surveillance equipment, even drones have been proposed as a possible tool to assist in this task. All the countries that have been known to providing a market for these animal products need to take a tougher stand on the subject. In addition sustainable livelihoods need to be created in areas affected by wildlife crime.

Do we really want our children to grow up in a world where there are no elephants, no rhinos? Do we want them to learn about them in a museum and then explain to them that they were killed over something as trivial as trinkets and jewelry? Definitely not. 

Let's restore Africa's majestic wildlife and let our children enjoy it in all its glory! 


  1. Ishita, like you I am also really concerned.

    Maybe we should start or build into campaigns or inititaives to not use any animal products?!

    1. Hi, thanks so much for reading. Yes I think that is a great idea!