A number of conservation organisations support the ivory trade in 2008, including the World Bank.
Enter the school of thought: killing some to save some. Here, we remove the value of life from the equation and think about practical economic measures as a vehicle to supposedly benefit the larger population- the greater good.
How intrinsically ‘good' is it, though? Where do the ethics fit into it, and how effective, sustainable and scalable is such a solution, especially when corruption is factored into the process? Whether the income generated from trophy hunting or the ivory trade is effective in saving wildlife continues to be debated, but if we go down this path, what we lose grasp of, is this: the importance of an animal’s right to live.
We lost this topic somewhere, it seems, or else there wouldn’t be so much hoo-ha right now in the lead up to CoP17.
If there were 4 million elephants on Earth, the conversation might be slightly different. But today there are only 400,000 African elephants on the planet, and we’re losing 1 every 15 minutes. With the tiny population we have left, elephants are not to be gambled with.
It doesn’t matter if southern Africa has lots of elephants. Diverse geographical distribution and genetic variation across the continent is essential for the survival of the species and so elephants, no matter what country they live in, should be protected.
I am unsettled that we live in 2016 and still struggle to bring human decency to the fore. There are alternatives to managing elephant populations and raising funds without supporting a trade that ends up killing them.
The principle behind this is the value of life. And I really hope it takes a front seat at the CoP17 event next month.