TED Conversations

Paula Kahumbu

CEO, WildlifeDirect

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How do we save African elephants from extinction?

African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory as a surprising consequences of the rise of Asian economies. Symbolic of wealth and prestige, ivory was once only affordable for a few. Now with hundreds of millions of newly rich people in Asia, demand has outstripped supply and elephants are being killed at a rate that will drive them to extinction in less than 15 years.

African governments are unable to stop the poaching - the price of ivory is driving impunity, corruption and is now under control of criminal cartels.

How do we stop this? What will it take to reverse this trend? Do we need to change cultures? Appealing for compassion in China, Thailand, Philippines? Is it about law enforcement?

We need some bright ideas from TEDsters who love African animals and who know how to cause change in Asia


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    Feb 27 2013: Perhaps a program of tusk removal and regulated sale of ivory would produce a supply large enough to lower the street value to the point where poaching wasn't worthwhile. It would mean the rangers would need to tranquilise any animal with large tusks to allow their removal and it would only be able to be done in good habitat where tusks are less used to gather food. Perhaps a trial in a small area to asses the effects of tusk removal on the long term survival of a herd would be a good place to start.

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