By Joseph Mayton
Mohamed Abijian, an Ethiopian anti-poaching activist, has worked tirelessly in Tanzania and Kenya to educate youth on the horrors of the ivory trade, the destruction of natural habitats and illegal poaching of elephants in East Africa. While he spends much of his time battling local “cultural” customs, the past year has seen progress in the global fight against ivory.
“We have seen a lot of movement by governments to end their complicity in the global ivory trade,” he told Occupy.com from Kenya, where he was on a teaching expedition to local schools in remote villages. “It is a positive step in the right direction and I believe this is the beginning of the end of elephants being targeted and killed, because if we take away the market there will be few people to buy the tusks.”
But that is just part of the battle, Abijian says. While education is vital to the “future of African elephants and the youth that will be able to care for our wildlife,” he also believes the global movement led by international organizations and activists is key to the overall change in many people's attitudes toward the ivory trade.
“We must work and work and work towards ending the unnecessary killing of elephants for their tusks and ivory because it is destroying the natural wildlife and landscape that makes this part of the world so amazing and beautiful,” he argues.
Abijian's comments came after both the United States and France agreed to destroy their entire inventory of illegal ivory. France's move was met with great fanfare in mid-November, after activists expressed doubts the French government would support the global action against ivory.
“It is a beautiful moment for France because we had been seen as not wanting to really make a stand, but the government has done it and we are excited about this move,” said one former museum curator turned international activist, Francois Garboult.
Garboult believes France's destruction of its illegal ivory inventory will send a message to would-be poachers: that ivory belongs to the animal and can no longer be treated as a commodity to murder for.
“This is a sign that the international community is ready to engage and help Africa deal with the poaching problem,” Garboult argued. More....