These two elephants are happy to see each other. They are not strangers; nor have they been separated for long. Part of the same breeding herd, they are just having fun at the watering hole, showing gratitude for water and being together. Elephants express their affection for family members regularly. In fact, elephants have a need for affection and the touch of other elephants. Given their highly social nature, we have every reason to believe there is an elephant sound for thank you and a variety of trunk embraces to express gratitude.
We elephant lovers have reason to be grateful as well. President Obama did in fact touch upon the poaching problems facing elephants and rhinos in his discussions with Tanzania’s President this past week, stating: “Poaching and trafficking are threatening Africa’s wildlife, so today I issued a new executive order to better organize U.S. government efforts in this fight so that we can cooperate further with the Tanzanian government and others. And this includes additional millions of dollars to help countries across the region build their capacity to meet this challenge, because the entire world has a stake in making sure that we preserve Africa’s beauty for future generations.” (click here for full story)
Specifically, the Executive Order calls for:
- A $10 million pledge to improve protection for threatened wildlife populations in key African countries.
- A Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking to develop a national strategy within six months to fight wildlife crime, which will receive recommendations from an Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking of independent experts.
- A review of the federal government’s Transnational Organized Crime Strategy to consider adding wildlife trafficking to the list of crimes it covers, elevating it to the same level as arms, drug and human trafficking.
Although it is too early to speculate on how effective these measures will be, we should be grateful to the President and his advisors for making elephant poaching a priority topic during his African trip. The current poaching “kill rate” is 80 African elephants a day; at this rate, they will all be gone in a decade. In light of that, we should all take a moment to express our gratitude to the President and do our part by keeping up the efforts to stop consumer demand for ivory.