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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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    Mar 3 2013: I agree that removing tusks is a good deterrent of poachers seeking to cash in on some ivory, but doing this to all elephants as well as new born elephants would prove to be a rather exhausting task. It would be favorable if, eventually, long tusked elephants were bread out of the population due to artificial selection. Eventually it would be more beneficial and safer for elephants to have little or no tusks and these are the elephants that would live on to breed. Unfortunately elephants have very long life span so seeing such a mutation or alteration take place would take a very long time. Does anybody know if the elephant genome has been sequenced yet? If we could somehow target this gene and silence it somehow we could save a lot of elephants for generations to come. Does anybody else have an idea as to whether or not this is being looked into already?

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