In Tanzania there is a new question on biologist and game manager’s lips, “Why are there so many elephants without tusks?” Preliminary results seem to suggest that the reason for more elephants without tusks is because without tusks, they’re not targeted for poaching. This could be natural selection; evolution happening right before our eyes!
In Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has made a commitment to burn all ivory stockpiles to combat poaching. Then there is the growing trend for Chinese celebrities coming out with ads against using products from endangered species.
These are all good things for the survival of species like elephants and rhinos but poaching is still a very large threat to wildlife everywhere, especially the developing world. Mongabay recently reported on a “pleasure palace” in Laos that facilitated poaching trips for Chinese elite.
There is also the fact that although tigers, elephants and rhinos get a lot of support in anti-poaching campaigns, there are a lot of less high profile animals suffering. There is the Pangolin for instance, the most commonly poached animal in the world. They look a little bit like scaled armadillos and so few westerners even know they exist. If we’re going to combat poaching, it can’t be just for tigers and elephants but also for animals like the pangolin.
I used to think the same way too. If we’re going to combat poaching, it can’t be for a few species only, but it has to be for ALL animals. The sad truth is you can’t save the whole animal kingdom at the same time, at least not now. I’m sure it’s not easy for an institution too to decide which animal they want to save because there are too many of them need our help. It’s devastating to see the number of elephants or rhinos poached every week, but if we want see the truth, the numbers of sharks or tigers killed are also horrific, and as the most poached animals, the number of pangolins killed every day can reach hundreds to thousands kilos a day. At the end of the day, one question remains the same: which animal do you choose to help?
That’s a good point. I suppose I was trying to say that we can’t afford to only help the most charismatic animals. It is absolutely hard though and a lot of really tough decisions are being made and still have to be made for sure.