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: No doubt this needs a multi-pronged approach. But broad awareness must be in the mix. If the world, and most especially the asian cultures involved, could be made more aware of the brutality involved in taking ivory, much as the documentary The Cove did for dolphins I would think it could help quite a bit. But this is not a simple thing to do. In The Cove it seemed that many people in Japan were not aware of how a small number of their countrymen were profiting from the bloody way in which dolphins were harvested. I image that there is also a lack of awareness among many in asia in regards to elephants and ivory.

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