2012 will likely go down in history as the worst year ever for elephant poaching. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
CBS Evening News on November 26, in it’s report “Kenya Takes Drastic Steps to Save Elephants,” tells of some unorthodox steps being taken to save a bull elephant with particularly large tusks. Mountain Bull is a legend in his territory near Mt. Kenya. He has been shot by poachers numerous times but managed to survive. Many of the large tusked elephants have been killed by poachers and conservationists are worried that Mountain Bull’s time is running out, given the great price his tusks would command on the black market. Working with the Kenyan government, the Northern Rangelands Trust and park rangers tracked Mountain Bull until they could immobilize him with a drug-filled dart. Then, with a chainsaw, they removed most of his tusks. While this may put him at a competitive disadvantage with other bull elephants when fighting over females and territories, authorities hope that poachers will lose interest in Mountain Bull — permitting him to live a long life, even if the quality is diminished somewhat.
At some point in time, the government will destroy his tusks.
This is no long term solution for the elephant population at large, although the tactic has also been employed on rhino (removing their horn) in certain parts of Africa. It is a sad statement about current affairs if we must disfigure an animal to protect it. The only long term solution is to eliminate demand for ivory. This is something we can all help accomplish. Let the tuskers keep their tusks — and live.