- File Size: 7633 KB
- Print Length: 216 pages
- Publisher: Firefly Books (July 25, 2013)
- Publication Date: August 8, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00EFBEFL0
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,184,049 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Ivory, Horn and Blood: Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis Kindle Edition
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Foreword by Iain Douglas-Hamilton, OBE
As Ron Orenstein's book goes to press the killing of elephants in Africa for ivory has intensified to new heights. Elephants are fewer in number than they were in the previous ivory crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. I have never witnessed such a demand for ivory in the 48 years I have studied them. The prices for ivory to the poacher and, in ever increasing increments, to the final buyers in the Far East exceed all previous records. Demand for ivory is driving the illegal killing and exceeds all possible supply. If demand is not reduced the elephants will be largely eradicated.
Already populations have been exterminated in places like Comoe National Park in the Ivory Coast and in the Affole Mountains of Mauritania, both of which had thriving elephant populations when I started the first Pan-African Elephant Survey in 1975. There has been a horrific roll call of incidents in the last few years. Bouba N'Djida in Northern Cameroon was attacked by horsemen from Sudan allied to the notorious Janjaweed, and half the elephants were killed in a few days. Minkebe National Park in Gabon lost 11,000 elephants, Tsavo, Samburu and Mara are under attack in Kenya, and in East Africa nine out of ten populations are in decline. The Central African Forest Elephants have lost 62 percent of their numbers in one decade. All of this and far more is recorded in papers, reports and scientific publications.
The sheer weight of the destruction is overwhelming, but the statistics give no idea of the individual suffering, wounding and bereavement that accompany them. The rhino situation is even worse, with far higher prices for rhino horn and escalating killing in what formerly were the most secure havens. For these species to survive we need champions to tackle the poaching on the ground, to lower the demand, and like Ron to fight in the high corridors of power, at treaties like CITES, for political will and for united international action to counter these disasters.
Ron is one of those Westerners who care deeply for elephants and rhinos that still live somewhere "out there," far away on other continents. Where Ron is exceptional is that he has made it a lifetime mission to secure their future with the skills he has at his command, an eloquent, tireless and legally encyclopedic knowledge. Those who ask the question "What can I do to help?" should read his book and learn of the endeavors of so many highly motivated conservationists. The future of these endangered creatures is often decided by policies forged in the remote assemblies of CITES, far from flesh and blood struggles. Though Ron has experienced the dust of the field he is known as a redoubtable warrior, always on the side of the animals, within the halls of the CITES Conferences of the Parties, where the rules are hammered out that determine how species may survive the relentless international and often criminal trade.
As a bewildered field person arriving at CITES for the first time I first met Ron as a guiding hand on the floor of a debate of CITES CoP 1987, and for many Conferences since. He is an unfailing source of legal advice in the labyrinthine complexities of this huge living, working treaty that has to cater to so many endangered species and conflicting human responses.
As Ron's book goes to press at this crucial time, it will help people understand the history, background and current situation of elephants and rhinos. Ron is helping arouse the world to understand how we can secure a future for these species. Their fate is in human hands. The policies we adopt to save wildlife are generated from our sentiment and our understanding of the facts. We are the ultimate destroyers or guardians of wild creatures' existence. Ron's book tell stories of how we can save them.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, OBE Samburu, Kenya March 2013--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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Worth persevering through it if you have any interest at all in the plight of Africa's wildlife - rhino & elephant in particular.
The book is written in a rather pedantic manner. I suspect that this is a deliberate choice on the part of the author to avoid undue sensationalism and emotionalism. The result, however, is a book that is rather dry and plodding. He writes primarily from the perspective of the plethora of government and NGO bureaucracies that have sprung up to address various aspects of the ivory and rhino horn trade. Particular attention is paid to the controversial CITES - Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It is clear from this book that CITES is like Winston Churchill's notorious definition of democracy: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." CITES, with all of its flaws, is probably the best option available now for curbing the trade in ivory and rhino horns and thereby preserving what may be left of our herds of elephants and crashes of rhinos.
The bottom line in reading this book is that the best actions that any individual reader can take in helping to ensure the perpetuation of these magnificent creatures is to refrain from buying ivory and rhino horn products, to encourage others to refrain from making such purchases, and to contribute to NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and similar organizations.
These images, disseminated on TV and in photographs, have been common in the West for at least 30 years. Orenstein's book reminds us that, if anything, the poaching crisis has escalated, taking a huge toll of animal as well as human life right up to the present day. This is a well written, well informed, and well documented book on the elephant and rhino poaching crisis in Africa and Asia. The author, Ronald Orenstein, has a longstanding expertise on this subject. We learn in the Preface that he worked on the legal side of CITES (treaty on trade of endangered species) in the 1980s and has continued to actively engage and follow developments in the poaching and ivory trading crisis over the last several decades.
The book follows a clear structure divided into three parts: (1) What Happened? (2) What Went Wrong? (3) What Can Be Done? Throughout the book's 19 chapters, there is a back-and-forth discussion that jumps from elephants to rhinos and back again, but the challenges of poaching and illicit trade involving the two species complement each other, and the principles of conservation and solutions to be found are two currents flowing in the same stream. Saving rhinos and saving elephants are, in other words, two sides of the same coin and must be considered together. Part 1 of the book gives some biological background on both elephants and rhinos and discusses past issues involving their hunting and conservation. The following chapters then discuss the trade in ivory and horns, beginning with the supply side (in, say, Africa), including why poachers choose to poach, and ending with a discussion of the demand side, including why people buy horns and ivory (primarily in China and Vietnam, as of 2013).
Readers will find many interesting facts interspersed with Orenstein's trenchant analysis. He tells us, for instance, that ancient Egyptian and Roman demand for ivory was probably so great that it accounted for the extinction of elephants north of the Sahara. Others might find it interesting to learn that rhino horns regrow if removed correctly (like hair or fingernails), and that a recent strategy to deter poaching is to saw off the horn and thus remove the reason for killing them (a somewhat costly strategy, it turns out). The author also tells us that, contrary to popular belief, most Asians do NOT regard rhino horn as an aphrodisiac -- it was a myth of European origin, he claims. Rather, it is used for other medicinal reasons, to flaunt wealth or status, as a gift, or for other purposes.
Orenstein ends Part 1 of the book with a more detailed discussion of the recent history of conservation. He explains the history of CITES (the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which came into force in 1973 and has been amended numerous times since. The author identifies a key moment occurring in 1989. By that year, the elephant population in East Africa had declined by 80 percent or more, despite hunting bans on Kenya and Tanzania. At the same time, several countries, including Kenya, were earning large incomes from tourism and were thus keen to save the wildlife upon which the lucrative tourism industries depended. Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Gambia, Hungary, Austria, and the United States endorsed a new policy that outlawed what was left of the *legal* trade in ivory. The United States, EU, and others backed this ban with national policies. As Orenstein explains later, this had a profound effect on the poaching crisis, bringing great success that was later derailed by concessions to the "legal-trade" school of conservation.
One of the author’s main argument is that total bans on the trade of ivory and rhino horn are the most effective means of curtailing its trade. Before the 1989 ban, illegal ivory could be poached in Africa and sold as if it was legal. The buyer would never know the difference between legal and illegal products. Consumer demand would thus remain high on the assumption that ivory he was buying must be legal, which was rarely the case. What the ban accomplished, then, was to send the message that ALL ivory trade was illegal, ending the back-door route by which poached ivory had made its way to the market. “The initial success of the ban was considerable,” Orenstein concludes.
So what went wrong? Orenstein argues that, before the CITES bans could achieve total success, alternative strategies gained influence. There was an old and established belief among many that banning a desirable commodity would only drive the trade underground, where it could not be controlled by responsible governments or international bodies. Prohibition and the drug war had failed for this reason, the opponents argued, and so would the CITES ban. Even The Economist magazine agreed that bans would simply drive the trade underground. The problem with this argument, Orenstein argues, is that ivory is not an illicit drug or an intoxicating beverage to be purchased on back alleys. Most buyers wanted legal ivory, purchased through legitimate outlets. Many of them were wealthy and upper class and wanted social prestige, not a quick drug high or a bottle of moonshine. Without the ban, illegal ivory would be sold as if it was legal. The success of CITES came precisely because it closed off the possibility of laundering lucrative illegal ivory as if it was legitimately obtained.
Nevertheless, pressure mounted to repeal CITES and to allow at least a limited trade in animal commodities. The opponents of CITES were well meaning but terribly misguided, Orenstein believes. They thought that, if ivory could be sold responsibility and legally, the money could be plowed back into saving other animals in parks and reserves. This idea is neat in principle and works in favor of many small game ranches and conservation interests. It also helped beleaguered governments holding large stocks of ivory that could not be sold under the terms of the treaty. But, as Orenstein insists (rightly in my opinion), opening the legal trade of ivory and rhino horn to several responsible parties makes it impossible to keep illegal poached ivory and rhino from being mixed in and laundered as if it was legal. Once the market was opened back up and buyers grew accustomed to seeing ivory and rhino horn in shops, it was impossible to keep the illegal goods from shops. Demand and prices skyrocketed. The result was a massive illegal slaughter carried out by heavily armed and organized militias that continue to roam the gamelands.
Orenstein’s book traces the struggle against poaching right up to the present day by reference to a large amount of literature and news material on the subject. He explains the surge in prices of these animal commodities, the efforts to curb poaching, the successes and missteps along the way, and the policies that can be adopted in the twenty-first century. His book is, in my opinion, an excellent survey of the subject, and it has the benefit of being written by a well-informed individual with a talent for writing and vast experience with his subject.
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Today, elephant ivory and rhino (Nose horn) horn have become currencies of war. There has been widespread and catastrophic decline of 63% of forest elephants. The Sumatran doubled horn rhino is one of the most endangered large mammals on earth today. The demand of ivory among the new Chinese wealthy is destroying the world's elephants. Chinese believe that the elephant tusks(xiang-ya) or teeth grow again like human teeth! There is no practical way to get ivory from a wild elephant and leave the animal alive. It is now believed that rhino horn as an aphrodisiac, is only a story. Myths of using rhino horn to detect poison and ward away evil spirits still exist. The main market for rhino horn is Yemen, where it is used as a handle for dagger (Jambiya). However, there is now a new market for this in Vietnam.
Large scale poaching of elephants and rhino is a commercial enterprise today. The other issue is PRICE and PROFITS and corruption in high places. The rhino horn trade was banned in 1975 and the elephant ivory trade in 1989. Despite CITES ban, the illegal poaching got worse. By 1989, Kenya had only 20% of its black rhinos left since 1970 figures. Black rhinos could only be protected in private areas and by anti-poaching patrols. Ivory was still been sold to Japan and China (in Nov 2009, 101,767 tonnes!) Poaching also increased in South Africa, by white Afrikaans, including landowners, wildlife veterinarians and game-capture professionals!, exporting horns to Vietnam and Thailand. Hong Kong City has the largest numbers of ivory horns on sale anywhere in the world. 90% of passengers arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, with ivory were Chinese Nationals. 50% of the poaching in Kenya happens within 20 miles of its 5 massive Chinese road building projects. Trophy hunting still goes on in South Africa.
The 'blood ivory' trade has been built on war in Africa. The rhino horn is the most valuable wildlife product in the world ($65,000/kg). This now leads to theft of horns and ivory, from private collectors or ware houses or museums or stock-piles. So what can be done?:- (1) Effective anti-poaching operations (2) Control the trade in ivory and rhino horn (3) pass legislation and impose stricter penalties (4) improve local peoples lives (5) continuation of CITES ban on commercial trade (6) reducing demand by massive public education and awareness campaign, to stop buying any ivory or horn. When the buying STOPS, the killing can TOO.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) Tsavo Story, Dame Daphne Sheldrick 1973
(2) Ivory Crisis, Ian Parker 1983
(3) Battle For the Elephants, Iain Douglas Hamilton 1992
(4) To Save an Elephant, A Thornton 1992
(5) When Elephants Weep, J Masson 1996
(6) Elephant Destiny, M Meridith 2003
(7) The Secret Elephants, Gareth Patterson 2010
(8) Killing For Profit, J Rademeyer 2012
(9) The Rhino Keepers, C Walker 2012
(10)Earth to Sky, M Nichols 2013
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.