TED Conversations

Paula Kahumbu

CEO, WildlifeDirect

This conversation is closed.

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

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 6 2013: Why can't law enforcement order products to see if they are legal? Then,if they aren't, charge a large fine to cover their operations. The websites could post warnings that this is being done. Wouldn't that get rid of most of the traffic overnight?

    You see, I've been reading this about that: (eventually I realized this article is Mr.Long's pick)

    BANGKOK (AP) — Conservationists say there's a new threat to the survival of Africa's endangered elephants that may be just as deadly as poachers' bullets: the black-market trade of ivory in cyberspace.
    Illegal tusks are being bought and sold on countless Internet forums and shopping websites worldwide, including Internet giant Google, with increasing frequency, according to activists. And wildlife groups attending the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok this week are calling on global law enforcement agencies to do something about it.
    The elephant slaughter, which has reached crisis proportions unheard of in two decades, is largely being driven by skyrocketing demand in Asia, where tusks are often carved into tourist trinkets and ornaments.
    "The Internet is anonymous, it's open 24 hours a day for business, and selling illegal ivory online is a low-risk, high-profit activity for criminals," Tania McCrea-Steele of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told The Associated Press on Tuesday from London.
    In one investigation last year, IFAW found 17,847 elephant products listed on 13 websites in China. The country, which conservationists call the world's top destination for "blood ivory" from Africa, is not alone.
    IFAW says illegal ivory trading online is an issue within the U.S., including on eBay, and it is rife on some websites in Europe, particularly nations with colonial links to Africa.
    It is often advertised with code words like "ox-bone," ''white gold," ''unburnable bone," or "cold to the touch," and shipped through the mail.
    (continued in following post)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.