By Joel Banner Baird
A written question from a youngster reached the panel of experts Thursday afternoon: “If you had a million dollars, what would you do to save the elephants?”
Murmurs passed through the crowd of about 300 people gathered at University of Vermont’s Ira Allen Chapel to learn about a dire threat posed to the Earth’s largest land animal.
Yes, it was agreed: Money pays for the elephants’ demise, and money is needed to counter the trend.
A million dollars? That kind of money might buy a handful of carved ivory Buddhas in a luxury shop in Beijing.
Or 2 million elephant-themed cupcakes of the sort on sale at the lobby: 50 cents a pop.
The four panel members paused, only briefly amused. Conservation experts believe African elephant populations have plummeted by 76 percent since 2002 — and advotes are scrambling for help.
The million-dollar question, posed after the screening of the National Geographic documentary “Battle for the Elephants,” apparently had sharpened everyone’s sense of purpose.
A consensus opinion was voiced by Shelburne-based conservation author Laurel Neme. More....