Chinese Public Moved by Elephant Voices
World renowned biologist Dr. Joyce Poole led a Chinese audience into the emotional and behavioral world of African elephants at a public lecture organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) and the China Academy of Sciences (CAS).
In a packed auditorium at the National Science Library of CAS in Beijing, Chinese people heard first-hand accounts of the devastating impacts ivory trade is having on individual elephants, elephant families and the species as a whole.
In one week in March, poachers slaughtered 86 elephants in Chad, including 33 pregnant females. In just a few weeks early last year, as many as 650 elephants, representing 50 percent of the elephants in Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park were brutally killed for their ivory. The poachers killed all the members of elephant families. Many elephants were alive when their tusks were hacked off, even the baby elephants.
“Anyone lucky enough to spend time with elephants can't help but fall in love with them. I want to believe that those who buy and sell ivory don't understand how many elephants are suffering and dying to supply this dirty, bloody business. How could anyone willfully cause such misery?” asked Dr. Poole.
In the past 40 years, the African elephant population has declined by more than half, with as few as 450,000 left on the continent. Studies show that when the number of elephants decline at an annual rate of six percent, the population is facing collapse. The frightening reality is that in many parts of Africa today, populations of elephants are being killed for the ivory trade at a rate of 11-12 percent.
As long-living, slow-growing and slow-breeding animals, elephants simply cannot sustain this unprecedented rate of killing for the ivory trade. “With some 35,000 elephants killed in Africa last year, what we are witnessing is, quite literally, genocide. First the males are killed, then the matriarchs; with each mother's death, a calf often dies too. These young elephants are just collateral damage in the ivory wars,” said Dr. Poole.
The escalation in elephant poaching in Africa is solely to feed the increasing demand for ivory in Asia, particularly in China. Ivory is coveted as a status symbol in China amongst the rapidly growing middle class. The legal market for ivory in China provides cover for a massive illegal trade making China the world’s largest consumer markets for illegal ivory.
“The recent prosecution of a government accredited ivory trader who was convicted of smuggling nearly 8 tons of ivory from Africa is further proof that the legal market here provides cover for criminals to launder ivory from poached elephants.” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director for IFAW. “The lust for ivory is causing the massacre of elephants on an almost daily basis. To save elephants we must reject ivory.”
About Dr. Joyce Poole
Dr. Poole is the world’s eminent ethologist, conservationist and defender of elephants. She co-founded the organization ElephantVoices, which aims to inspire wonder in the intelligence, complexity and voices of elephants, and to secure a kinder future for them through conservation, research and the sharing of knowledge.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NSLC):
The National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NSLC) is the public library service system of CAS as well as the National Library of Sciences in Chinese National Science and Technology Libraries (NSTL) system. Under a Board Trustees appointed by CAS, NSLC consists of a Main Library (based in Beijing, formerly the Library of CAS) and three branch libraries, respectively Lanzhou Branch Library (formerly Lanzhou Library of CAS), Chengdu Branch Library (formerly Chengdu Library of CAS), and Wuhan Branch Library (formerly Wuhan Library of CAS). NSLC functions as the key library nationally for collecting information resources and providing information services in natural sciences, inter-disciplinary fields, and high tech fields, for the researchers and students of CAS and for the researchers around the country. It also conducts services such as information analysis, digital library system development, scientific publication (with its 14 journals), and promotion of sciences. It also operates the Archives of CAS.