By Panama Red
A few months ago you may have seen the feature in National Geographic magazine about the wholesale slaughter of elephants--25 THOUSAND last year alone--for their ivory, and about how the ivory makes its way to China, where it is carved into various trinkets by skilled craftsmen and then somehow gets to the Philippines. One customer there, a seemingly jaded old Catholic cardinal, or bishop (or whatever), collects Jesus-related trinkets and now has a manse chock-full of the stuff. There were some pictures of these items in the N-G article, but apparently the photographer was dissuaded from taking an actual picture of the monsignor's (or whatever's) huge (life-size?) crucifix made of ivory. (Note to Pope Francis: You should maybe look into this .)
The National Geographic piece doesn't account for all the ivory poached each year, but it does go a long way toward explaining the level of jerkitude involved at the consumer end of the ivory chain. From the Philippines, which seems to be the main terminus and transshipment point of all the ivory swag from China, the ivory not converted to holy use goes to other destinations: you can probably buy some in any large coastal city on the planet.
I am of course shocked--shocked, I say--at the non-involvement of the Chinese government in this matter.
For the last twenty-five years, we bleeding hearts have been asking the question, "Why do we let this go on and what can we do to stop it?" Yet, for all that time, we've been making snowballs with our hands--in this country, at least, and in most of the rest of the world as well. (See October 7, 1988 "AFRICAN ELEPHANT CONSERVATION ACT," 16 U.S.C. 4201-4245, as amended 1992.)
Maybe we should pursue the remedy that has worked so well in the preservation of the mountain gorilla: Send in some armed rangers to apprehend the poachers. But wait! That strategy didn't work out so well, actually. Just ask the 300 or so mountain gorillas that are left.
A little while back in the New York Times, the watering hole where we liberal antelope go to drink in the daily blab and become impotently infuriated, I saw this morsel: "As ivory poaching gets more militarized, with rebels and even armies slaughtering elephants across Africa, rangers are wading into the bush to confront hardened soldiers." ["The Price of Ivory," Deadly Risk for African Wildlife Rangers, by Jeffrey Gettleman. (NY Times, Jan 5, 2013.) More....