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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 4 2013: Almost all of the recommended solutions fall into one or two categories. Economic and scientific remedies.

    Paula, I am not a TED tree hugger .. I have had three jobs I retired from all three ... military, areonatical engineer, and state civil servant (law enforcement).

    You want to save the elephant ..... there is a demand for the tusk (ivory) .... poachers are killing off elephants to supply the ivory to buyers.

    Review the laws.

    1) Poaching is illegal ... what is the punishment ... The consequences must out weight the rewards.

    2) Getting caught with poached tusks .. what is the punishment ... same as above

    3) Transporting poached ivory ... what is the punishment ... same as above

    4) The immediate loss of all bank accounts ... property ... impounding of planes, ships, motor vehicles, etc ... used in the act of poaching or the transporting of poached goods. This would require cooperation from banks.

    5) The diplomatic treaty with countries that poachers and recievers or traders in poached property will be subject to harsh laws and penalties to be agreed upon by the countries involved.

    6) If your country is really serious about this then public execution of poachers would go a long way. Recommended.

    When dealing with organized crime there can be no half way. Power is all they respect. Justice must be harsh and quick.

    Economic and scientific solutions will not mean anything to organized crime .... they can and will overcome all of these efforts and laugh all the way to the bank.

    This is not a kinder and gentler business. Get tough.

    I wish you well. Bob.

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