Ivory & Extinction

African elephants have been at the forefront of international wildlife conservation efforts for the last 30 years. When ivory poaching was brought to the public’s consciousness in the mid 1980s, the world was rightly appalled and millions of dollars have went toward their cause.

Currently there are an estimated 400,000 African elephants throughout the continent. That’s a huge drop from at least two million in the 1940s but it is large in comparison to the Asian elephant with a best estimate standing at around 35,000 animals scattered throughout Asia.

800px-Elephants_in_Tanzania_Africa

And the giraffe with an estimated 40,000 individuals in Africa.

Or tigers (of all subspecies) standing at around 2,000 animals.

I dare say if any of these species had received 1/10 of the attention that African elephants have gotten, then they might not be in their current state.

Big conservation is like anything else it can become big bureaucracy and the public’s fascination with the African elephant helps generate funding. Lots of it.

I am all for helping this species but shouldn’t a bigger focus be on Asian elephant populations which stand at 1/10 of that in Africa?

Tigers are at an even worse place. A much worse place.

Heading into the new year a good question for those of us who support wildlife conservation is which areas to prioritize and which groups to support. We at Kingdom Zoo are looking at doing something with tigers and are searching out effective, well-managed projects to support with the limit resources we have available.

The clock is ticking and extinction is a real possibility for some of the creatures on this list.

And if we’re honest about it, the African elephant even with increased poaching will likely be the last of these to vanish while it receives the majority of media attention.

Hopefully that will not be at the expense of other species closer to the brink of eradication.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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