This weekend the world’s largest big game hunting convention opens in Las Vegas very much as it has for each of the last 30 years. Except this year there’s one radically new component: It will be attended by the United States Secretary of the Interior with a delegation from the department in full hunting regalia.
That’s not surprising, but the agenda has shifted for this august group of officials. Unexpected meetings have been arranged to decide what to do about President Trump’s flipflopping about elephant tusks.
Another two tourists were killed by elephant Saturday.
There are conflicting accounts of the deaths. The official Zambian police report claims that the 57-year old Belgian woman walked “too close” to take photos. But family members of the two killed told the Lusaka Times “the duo were looking at the giant mammals from a distance” and were charged unexpectedly.
In the big scheme of things, here’s why the details matter less than you might think.
Next week the House votes on a series of bills to roll back the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These are acutely, expertly crafted pieces of legislation. They will absolutely do their trick.
But interestingly if the Senate agrees and Trump signs, the effects will be devastatingly quick in Africa. A new U.S. administration might reverse the reversal fast enough – for example – to save wolves and condors and whooping cranes in America. But elephants, lions in Africa?
After elephants “terrified” a Kenyan politician campaigning near Tsavo National Park, the candidate told supporters the government has done “Very little… to make sure human-wildlife conflict is addressed.”
A few weeks earlier Kenya’s proud new SGR train plowed into a cow in the same area because elephants had torn down the fence along the rail line.
In the last few months I’ve seen first-hand the increasing human/wildlife conflict. It’s not a pretty scene.
Why are professionals from zoo directors to scientists – much less you! – less interested in the lion decline than the elephant decline? Why are you donating to Save The Elephants but not Save the Lions?
Lions-Wild estimates there were more than 100,000 lion living in the wild when I started my career. Today there are 15-20,000. That decline is greater and much more alarming than that of rhino or elephant. Worse yet the world’s most important lion researchers say another 50% decline will occur in just the next few years? Why is there so much less interest in the lion decline? I think I know the answer.
NPR’s fuzzy wuzzy reporting in the last few days about the northern white rhino is high school journalism. I’m not suggesting that this story needs the due diligence of Jared Kushner’s Russia contacts, but what is an important battle between science and performance NPR has reduced to a smiling emoticon.
NPR reported as if it were new a crowdfunding campaign for in vitro fertilization to save the last three known surviving northern white rhino. In fact the campaign has languished for more than sixteen months. And there are good reasons it’s languishing.
Friday the European Union announced an emergency program to slow the decline of African predators that will focus on mitigating the human/wildlife conflicts that are at the center of this problem.
It’s a pitifully small sum of money, less than $15 million, that I wonder may already have been spent in just creating the working groups, research, guidelines and publications that resulted in the announcement Friday. On the other hand, I really like their approach.
After a decade of successful recovery by a worldwide effort to save wild dogs they are threatened once again.
Enough habitats have been secured and enough bred in the wild and reintroduced that except for one obstruction, they would currently be thriving. That one obstruction is human: farmers whose stock has been taken down.
Sometimes helping animals is not … helping animals. Three Connecticut women through a crowdfunding campaign have raised nearly $300,000 to supply water to animals in a drought-stricken area of Tsavo in Kenya.
It’s wrong. It’s hurting the animals, and it’s ignoring the people.
It’s immoral to support saving wildlife at the expense of saving people. It’s that simple and today in Kenya I realized first-hand this travesty.
It begins with climate change. Surely you notice weather is changing where you live, and I’ve often explained that the developed world is more capable of adjusting to this than the developing world. But when you feel compelled to assist efforts to mitigate climate change in the developing world, shouldn’t you consider the people who live there rather than just the wildlife?
File “science as scandal:” For a long time South Africans have culled heavily in their national parks even as many scientists vociferously argued against doing so. Now it seems that in some kind of warped tolerance if not outright trickery South African officials managed a big cull of jackals… to prove that culling jackals doesn’t work!
Why would they cull to prove culling doesn’t work? Well, that we don’t know. What we do know is this:
COP17 adjourned a day early in Joburg as a Cop Out. No action was taken to protect lions. No further protections were given elephant and an attempt to integrate local communities into the CITES process was essentially rebuked.
These three failures are shameful.
So why all the self-congratulations?
World authorities were unable last week to adequately address the “elephant problem” at COP17 even as more and more elephant attacks are reported.
Conservationists focus on saving elephants from further population declines, but you can’t save anything that large and powerful if you don’t first protect the human beings that they threaten.
COP17, the CITES treaty working group, is winding down like a firecracker with the biggest boom possibly yet to come. Southern African countries prevailed in a bitter fight to keep all elephants from being listed as imminently going extinct, and the fight over lions begins today.
CITES was absolutely fundamental in saving elephants from extinction 30 years ago. But times have changed. Has it lost its power to politics?
More than two thousand ardent scientists and advocates are in Johannesburg today preparing for next year’s CITES. Historical treaties like the Geneva Convention may actually effect our daily lives more noticeably but only CITES has attracted such global consensus that enforcement is aggressive and routine.
Today horse trading like you’ve never seen is going on, but in the end unlike so much else in today’s troubled world, everybody really will come together.
Sound nice? Yes, it is, but there’s still this one thing….