Sunday, April 26, 2009
Photograph from motherjones.com
The Red Alert this week takes us back to Kenya in Africa. Unfortunately, elephants as massive and imposing as they seem, are often no match for the poachers’ snares. Elephants, particularly large elephants, are being killed for their ivory tusks.
Sadly, the African Government has legalized the sell of ivory in this region for the first time in 10 years. The ivory is exported to countries like China and Japan. And these tusks are worth money and lots of it-upwards of $1000 per tusk. According to this report, elephants are being poached at a rate of 45% more than last year.
The rampant poaching leaves many orphaned elephants to fend for themselves and without the proper nourishment within a matter of a day and knowledge of survival skills instilled by their parents, they are sure to die. Many times, the young elephants have watched their own mothers being slaughtered by poachers and do not want to leave her remains, stroking her body and still wanting to nurse. The trauma inflicted is extremely intense and the orphaned elephant can become despondent and do such things as bang and scrape his head against metal bars. Remarkably, these same elephants have an extreme capacity for forgiveness, but they never forget what has happened. Click here to read more about this tragic issue and watch the video by correspondent Bob Simon of “60 Minutes.”
Fortunately, there are people who are trying to help these orphaned elephants. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, a native of Kenya, is the founder of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an orphanage in Kenya dedicated to rescuing and teaching these elephants the necessary tools in preparation for re-integration into the wild. Click here to read more about the trust and how you can help and even foster your own orphaned elephant.