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: Another conservation advocacy group, the Environmental Investigation Agency, said Tuesday that Google Japan's shopping site now has 10,000 ads promoting ivory sales.
    About 80 percent of the ads are for "hanko," small wooden stamps inlaid with ivory lettering that are widely used in Japan to affix signature seals to official documents; the rest are carvings and other small objects.
    The trade is legal within Japan, but banned by Google's own policies. The EIA said hanko sales are a "major demand driver for elephant ivory."
    "While elephants are being mass slaughtered across Africa to produce ivory trinkets, it is shocking to discover that Google, with the massive resources it has at its disposal, is failing to enforce its own policies designed to help protect endangered elephants," said Allan Thorton, EIA's U.S.-based president.
    Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press that "ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them."
    The EIA said it had written a letter to Google CEO Larry Page on Feb. 22 urging the company to remove the ads because they violate Google's own policies. It said Google had not responded to the letter or taken down the advertisements.
    About 70 years ago, up to 5 million elephants were believed to have roamed the African continent. Today, just several hundred thousand are left.
    As Asian economies have grown, so has their demand for ivory. Over the last 12 months, an estimated 32,000 elephants were killed in Africa, according to the Born Free Foundation, which says black-market ivory sells for as much as $1,300 per pound, a huge multibillion-dollar business.
    CITES banned the international ivory trade in 1989, but the move did not address domestic markets. Since then, Japan has imported ivory stocks from Africa in at least two legal, controlled sales.
    (continued in following post)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.