Guest Blogger – Kaitlin Becker – The Elephant and Her Tusk
Kaitlin Becker is a graduate student from the University of Central Missouri pursuing her degree in Mass Communication. Having previously graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Production and a minor in photography, Kaitlin is interested in understanding stories.
This blog gives voice to those who haven’t been heard…Injustices have been carried out and the victims are stricken silent. I’m going to focus for a brief time on the injustices humans have done upon a species that seeks only to live.
Did you know that elephants share many of the same emotions humans do? Elephants actually parallel humans in many ways. Their lifespan is similar to ours as is their rate of development. But it is their sense of family that makes me love them. These gentle giants are so important to the ecosystems that they live in and they are being brutally slaughtered for their ivory tusks.
Photo credit: Kaitlin Becker
Fact source: http://march4elephantsandrhinos.org/crisis-2/
September 24th marked the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. Its goal was to increase public awareness about the cost of ivory and encourage the public to demand anti-ivory laws be put in place.
While there have been many documentaries about the ivory poaching industry. This has been my favorite by far because it tries to explain the Eastern cultures desire for the product.
Ivory has both a commercial and superstitious significance in various markets. China has a huge industry of ivory carving and in Japan ivory is used for special seals known as “hankas”. In most Western countries, ivory is used merely for trinket value. What many don’t understand is if you buy ivory made products, you have elephant blood on your hands.
Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, a website that urges people to participate in marches to raise awareness about Elephant and Rhino poaching, estimates that 25,000 -50,000 elephants are poached each year. This means that there are now anywhere from 400,000-250,000 elephants left in the wilds of Africa. Several countries in Africa have already seen the elephant driven to extinction by poaching; this includes Senegal, Somalia and Sudan.
Photo credit: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Having been luckily enough to travel to Kenya, Africa this summer, I was able to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization that focuses on wildlife conversation in Africa. They are specifically known for their Orphan Project; taking in orphaned or injured baby elephants and nursing them back to health and then releasing them back into the wild. This in an important project because a baby elephant needs it’s mother’s milk until they are two years old, so often times poachers kill the mother elephants because their tusks are so long and the babies are left unable to survive. This is especially sad to think about when you realize that the old adage about how elephants have such a good memory? That’s true – they remember everything they have experienced in their lives. Can you imagine growing up with a memory of your mother’s murder? It would be horrendous. According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, this is the case for about 80% of the rescued elephants that they help. You can see it in their eyes; when I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and walked among the rescued babies…you could tell which ones had lost their mothers. The keepers I spoke to talked about how some of the orphans will mourn and mope for months, for years, from the loss of not only their mother, but their herd, their family.
Photo Credit: Kaitlin Becker
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a wonderful program in which you can foster a rescued elephant and all the money goes directly to these elephants. Thus, I was able to not only become a foster mom to this little cutie, Murit, but also fully come to understand the impact humans have had upon this most amazing species.
At this point in time, there is no ban on the sale of ivory and ivory is now worth more than gold. However, as of yesterday, in an article posted by BBC news, many countries have shut down the possibility of a future of legalized ivory trade!
Weak enforcement of local laws mean that poachers get away with killing these beautiful creatures. Spread the awareness. Don’t buy ivory products. Stop the ivory trade. Save these beautiful and gentle creatures from extinction.
“Show them respect. The elephants created this jungle – where they made furrows with their tusks, the rivers ran. Where they blew their trunks, the leaves fell. They made all that belongs – the mountains and the trees – the birds in the tree” – The Jungle Book (2016, film)