Dying for Ivory

Louisa Lombard 
The New York Times
September 20, 2012

At least 25,000 elephants may have been slaughtered in Africa in 2011 — more than in any year since reporting began in 2002 — according to Kenneth Burnham, the statistician for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, an intergovernmental research agency. 
Hundreds of humans have also died as a result of the elephant slaughter — not just from scattered maulings or tramplings, but from bullets fired by other humans fighting on the animals’ behalf [this is fantastic news!]
Since the 1980s, under the mantle of conservation efforts and with funding from the European Union, governments, NGOs and private associations, African park guards have fought a rarely discussed low-level war against poachers. The conflict is becoming increasingly militarized, with both poachers and anti-poachers each justifying their belligerence as a response to the other’s. 
In the Central African Republic, where I am conducting research on governance in a conflict zone, the anti-poaching war has been especially brutal. In remote parklands, far from public scrutiny, park rangers and militias led by foreign mercenaries, safari guides and French soldiers on a cooperation mission for the government have been fighting a dirty war on behalf of the elephants [And this, this makes me feel warm and fuzzy.]

I wish there were soldiers on this planet that would literally fight poachers and the Chinese, dirt worshiping, black market on behalf of tigers.  It is literally impossible for me to feel any pity for a poacher on the wrong end of a gun barrel… 

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