I have felt a tremendous need to write this – to talk about this point of view here. I am not sure if many will see this. I am quite happy if even a small few see it and actually share in this realization and see the light. Because that is how it happened for me. The most recent news of Trump potentially lifting the ban on trophy hunting and then postponing it, had me ‘chomping at the bit’ to speak candidly about a message that I became exposed to on my first trip to Zimbabwe in 2016.
Gosh I love elephants. I love all animals very very much, with all of my heart. Elephants are astonishing creatures. So majestic with their magnificent trunks and beautiful thick, wrinkly skin and gentle, soulful eyes. So soft and serene yet incredibly mighty. I only want them to flourish as a species. I only want what’s best for them. And Trump could lift the ban on ivory trade. I know he does not have the elephant’s interests at heart on this matter. Yet when I heard of this news I thought, WOW this could be a turning point for the conservation and appropriate management action on an issue I have seen first hand in Zimbabwe; too many elephants.
How did this happen, you may wonder? Human population in these areas in Zimbabwe has grown rapidly over decades. There are no fences and no boundaries between elephants and humans and so elephants are roaming around within these human confines not being able to migrate far as they need to naturally. As they themselves breed they grow in numbers and have grown exponentially over decades also. These vast numbers of elephant are eating and stomping their way through ecosystems and these plants are not able to regenerate in time leaving the precious soil they grow from unprotected and open to the elements. Eventually with time the soil becomes dry and desert-like. Not forgetting that the food elephants have over- consumed is also the food of other species such as the black rhino (and many other beautiful animals) who in turn have no ecosystem to rely on for their survival. Mass starvation occurs among elephants as they stumble to find enough food left to sustain them. It saddens me greatly to think of such a magnificent creature falling from grace in the pits of starvation. A long, slow, horrendous end for these long-nosed beauties. Mothers turning away from their own calves as their milk dries up from malnutrition. It is one big cycle of destruction for Africa’s wildlife.
So what has lifting the ivory trade ban to do with all of this? I would only suggest ethical hunting as an effort to help with this problem. And yes there is such a thing as ethical hunting. For wild animals to survive in Africa they must have a price tag, a value to the local people. Otherwise they will be quickly replaced for valuable animals such as cattle, pigs etc. This is simply fact. Cattle for example will never go extinct because of their valuable meat and skin. That is fact too. Ethical hunting within these areas of elephant over-population would help in the conservation of these animals. To survive into future generations because sadly RIGHT NOW it is not looking so rosy. Ethically hunting animals would create revenue and jobs in these areas thereby encouraging locals, hunters and farmers to take care of these habitats. ETHICAL hunting would be a better alternative to what is an already alarming issue. And using this type of hunting as a conservation and management tool to cut back this gross over population of elephants would help save this species and others and help preserve these unique ecosystems affected.
Please, please don’t dismiss this without looking into the whole issue at hand. The consequences, the solutions, the alternatives. If we leave it as is and allow nature to be left to its own devices these magnificent animals will be left to endure unimaginable suffering and distress. And that is a heartbreaking thought to even think of.