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: Perhaps this should be a United Nations issue. There should be some leverage that Kenya could use to get China to control the market in ivory. China has invested heavily in Africa and Kenya in particular. Is there something that China wants from Kenya that Kenya can hold back until China stops the ivory market? China has a tremendous control over its own people, fabulously wealthy or not. China could stop the Chinese ivory trade, they need to be given a reason to do so.

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