Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thousands March Worldwide Demanding Protection of Elephants and Rhinos

Demonstrators in Nairobi, Kenya demanding an end to poaching of elephants and rhinos.

The ongoing poaching threat directed at elephants and rhinos has led to thousands of people worldwide demanding full-scale protection of these animals fearing that they are being driven to extinction. The protests, known as the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, took place in 136 towns and cities in six continents including Nairobi, New York City, Paris, Soweto, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C. In South Africa, which is struggling to curb its continuous rhino-poaching crisis, protesters gathered across seventeen cities. One of the organizers of the march, Dex Kotze, asserted that political leaders "do not have the guts and political will to make changes in their laws." He further added that Africa is now home to roughly 400,000 elephants, compared to 27 million 350 years ago, and about 9% of those are being ruthlessly slaughtered each year. Mr. Kotze also emphasized that the protests are also meant to highlight the alleged "gang of 19" countries classified by CITES as not doing much to stem the illegal trafficking of elephant tusks, rhino horns, and other body parts of endangered species. Among these countries are Angola, China, Kenya, Laos, Mozambique, and Vietnam. Out of these countries, China is known to be the major importer of ivory with 37 factories and 130 retail outlets, which Mr. Kotze demanded to be shut down. In Nairobi, several hundred people took to the streets demanding full-scale protection of Kenya's elephants from poaching. Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of WildlifeDirect, indicated that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is incapable of going after powerful crime syndicates by itself. However, Jamey Ponte, a co-organizer of the march in Kenya, stated that governments can take steps to make a difference. For example, in the case of Kenya, the port city of Mombasa which is known to be the major exporter of ivory should be fortified with security checkpoints to thoroughly inspect exports in an effort to intercept ivory about to be exported to China. Likewise, a similar step should be implemented in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which is the second major exporter of ivory.
Demonstrators take to the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa calling for an end to poaching.

I highly applaud what these demonstrators around the world are doing to show how much they care about elephants and rhinos that are being heavily poached on a large-scale to meet the growing demand of ivory and rhino horns. It goes to show how the world is not blind to such ongoing environmental catastrophes threatening to wipe some endangered species off the face of the Earth. It is that very spirit that is essential to ensure the survival of elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species around the world. The battle against illegal poaching, wildlife trade, and other environmental threats that are putting the lives of endangered species at risk of being completely eradicated should not just be left to authorities, conservation groups, NGOs, and similar organizations. It is extremely crucial that local communities around the world should be involved in the battle. This further helps in putting pressure on federal governments to convince them in taking action by changing their laws in order to make it virtually impossible for poachers and other criminals specializing in wildlife crimes to carry out their illicit activities. While it has been noted that countries like U.S, France, Kenya, and South Africa have hosted demonstrations demanding serious action against elephant and rhino-poaching, it would also make more difference if people in China, Laos, Vietnam, and others where the demand for ivory and rhino horns remains high follow this example. In other words, they should join forces with demonstrators outside their home countries in the battle against poaching and the illegal trade of elephant ivory, rhino horns, and other body parts of endangered species. This would further help in putting pressure on federal governments around the world on a global scale to take decisive actions against powerful crime syndicates driving the poaching of endangered species and the illegal trade of their body parts. The threat of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is not only helping meet the demands of obtaining body parts of endangered species for the black market, but is also financing terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab, the Janjaweed, and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) which are infamous for conducting crimes against humanity. This is why it is extremely important to take every necessary step to put a stop to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade to save not just the lives of animals, but also human beings.

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