By Reata Strickland
As a child I remember singing a song called “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea”. You would start out with a hole and then end up with “On the speck on the flea on the tail on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.” For the past three years I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to researching the African elephant. The issue that attracted my attention to the African elephant was the rate that these magnificent creatures were and are being slaughtered each year. The numbers quoted by reputable sources are between 30,000 and 35,000 each year. Being a graduate of The University of Alabama, where the African elephant is the mascot and a beloved symbol, these numbers are alarming. But there’s so much more to this than just the number of elephants killed a year.
The killing of African elephants for ivory is just one step in a long journey. The poached ivory from the massacred elephants are used by militant groups to fund terror and purchase guns. Park rangers and villagers on the African front are caught in the middle of a bloody struggle where life has little to no value. The militant groups sell ivory to illegal smugglers who then ship or fly the ivory to Asia. In Asia, the ivory is made into carvings, keychains, and trinkets. These goods are then sold and shipped around the world. Mainland China is considered to be the world’s largest ivory consumer, however the United States is the world’s second largest ivory consumer.
The ivory trade is a bloody trail that ends up on exhibit in someone’s home on a table or bookshelf. The laws governing ivory trade are ambiguous and people do not know what ivory is legal or illegal. Smugglers and terrorists take advantage of this ambiguity and map out a road of destruction, death and terror.
There are many things in the hole in the bottom of the sea, and there are many factors to the killing of elephants in Africa. To stop the song and the build up of things in the hole in the bottom of the sea, you stop singing the song. To stop the killing of the elephants, we need to stop the demand for ivory. Stop the demand, that will stop the trade, that will stop the poaching, that will stop the killing of the elephants in Africa.
Please do something. Join us in our efforts to raise awareness for the dire situation facing the African elephants and help us promote conservation of this threatened species. Care. Share. Give!