Elephant Hunting and Illegal Trade
Unfortunately many experienced hunters feel that the ultimate experience for trophy hunting is to go after elephants. While in most parts of the world they are protected such safari hunts do take place in Africa. Guides make a ton of money taking people from all over the world out there to hunt for them. While the hunter may get a trophy to mount on their wall, they are also destroying a very valuable part of out environment and our history. Each one of these animals that is senselessly killed out there brings them one step closer to extinction.
Many animals have been hunted throughout history as a source of food but that isn’t the case with the elephants. In fact, most of the early information about them indicates that they were highly regarded as amazing animals. They weren’t killed for meat or for any other purpose. Sometimes they were hunted by villagers though to get them out of certain areas. This is because those villagers needed the food supplies close to them and couldn’t allow the elephants to take them.
Many elephants are hunted to capture them to use for work. It is more cost effective for those entities to capture wild elephants and to train them to work than it is to raise them from young and to breed them to be working animals. Due to the high level of intelligence it is said to be extremely easy to train an elephant without using harmful techniques such as beatings.
The main reason though that elephants have been hunted out there is for their ivory. This is worth a ton of money and so huge numbers of elephants were slaughtered in order to be able to cash in on such a business. With each tusk weighing up to 200 pounds, this was amazing. Early attempts to removed the ivory tusks and to leave the elephants alive didn’t work. The elephants were simply too aggressive for this type of process and it was too dangerous for humans to take part in.
Thanks to the development of many synthetic materials, ivory is not longer used to make many forms of art or even piano keys. However, there is still a huge use for it out there on the black market. What ivory is now taken from the elephants draws a huge price due to the limited supply of it out there. This means that illegal poaching of these elephants for that very reason continues to take place.
There simply isn’t the level of manpower out there or the ability to enforce laws well enough to protect them all. Raids have uncovered large shipments of ivory tusks being transported but finding the people responsible for it very rarely occurs. They have their other people transporting it so they aren’t involved should someone get caught.
It is important to report any acts of elephant poaching that you are aware of. That way the process can stop and innocent animals can be protected. There also needs to be pressure on law enforcement to place stricter fines and jail sentences on those caught with the ivory. When that occurs they will be less likely to take the risk transporting it for someone else.
The government of Africa needs to see the significance of protecting all remaining elephants as well. They need to put an end to the availability of legal hunts for elephants. However, they are making plenty of money off of it due to people traveling from all over the world to take part in such adventures.
Keith Somerville. Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Robin Brown. Blood Ivory. The History Press, 2011.