On the Tusks of a Dilemma

By Furniss, Charlie | Geographical, November 2006 | Go to article overview

On the Tusks of a Dilemma


Furniss, Charlie, Geographical


During the 20th century, poaching for ivory sent the populations of African and Asian elephants hurtling towards extinction. But then, following a 1990 ban on the trade of ivory, they began to stage a remarkable comeback, leading many conservationists to believe that the battle had been won. Now, however, it's the ivory trade that is staging a comeback, and it has wildlife campaigners worried. And as the CITES Standing Committee deliberates over whether or not to sanction a sale of stockpiled ivory, there are fears that once again, the world's elephants are in peril.

Mike Fay's career could be described as one of the most demoralising in conservation. Having worked in Central Africa for more than 20 years, he has seen the region almost emptied of its wildlife. But two years ago, he was offered a rare opportunity for optimism during a visit to Zakouma National Park in southern Chad, one of the few strongholds for large mammals in the Central African savannah.

Fay had heard about Zakouma--every conservationist who knows the region knows about Zakouma--but had never had the chance to visit before. And when he did, he wasn't disappointed. Flying over the 300,000-hectare park in a light aircraft, he could barely believe his eyes. "This place isn't just good," he thought, "it's spectacular."

Peering out of the window, he saw below him hundreds of giraffe, thousands of antelope and thousands more buffalo. In an area where populations of large mammals had been in virtual terminal decline since 1970, it felt good to see that those in Zakouma were thriving. Most thrilling of all were the huge herds of elephants roaming the woody savannah--each made up of several hundred individuals--something that was unheard of in this part of the world.

However, the sight of the elephants also sounded a note of caution in Fay's mind. His experience in Central African Republic had taught him how quickly things could change in this part of the world. It wouldn't be too long before poachers turned to the treasure trove in Zakouma, he thought.

So, in an effort to support the valiant conservation efforts of Zakouma's park rangers, Fay raised the funds to conduct a series of aerial elephant surveys. His first effort, in 2004, counted 3,885. But his second, earlier this year, found only 3,020. It was possible that a herd of 800 elephants had simply left the park to forage, but his intuition told him there was trouble.

His fears were soon confirmed when he found the remains of 100 fresh carcasses and disturbed two hunters' camps: the poachers who had wiped out almost 300,000 elephants from the region in the past 30 years had turned to Zakouma.

Fay, along with the whole conservation community, believed the war against the ivory trade had ended back in 1990, when an international ban led to a dramatic decline of elephant poaching. "Everyone stopped buying ivory at the time," he explains, "so the poachers could no longer sell it."

Now, however, it seems that Fay's old foes are back, eager to supply a growing demand for ivory. "Selling ivory in Central Africa today is like selling eggs at a farmers' market," he says. "There are all kinds of people in every town who are willing to buy."

But the resurgence isn't just taking place in Central Africa. The available evidence suggests that in recent years, the level of trade in ivory has been increasing steadily all over the world. Since the turn of the century, customs officials and police have seized more than 64 tonnes of raw and worked ivory all over Africa and Asia, as well as in Europe and North America and even parts of South America and the Pacific Islands. And recent research shows that markets in 25 African and Asian countries may be selling as much as 83 tonnes of worked ivory every year--the equivalent of more than 12,000 elephants--worth more than US$8million (4.3million [pounds sterling]).

"It's a disaster," says Esmond Martin, an independent environmental investigator and authority on the ivory trade. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Tusks of a Dilemma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.