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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  • Mar 4 2013: I'm sure this has been pointed out before, but I'd just like to mention again the prospects of domestication, or privatization, of the elephant.

    Domestication has preserved many species of animals for, (I'm guessing) many generations. Dogs, rabbits, chickens, and other animals have had great succes. Despite the many abuses they suffer today, the one terminal privation they do not suffer from is extinction.

    Domestication is not the easiest solution, but it is one guaranteed to work.

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