By Margaret Badore
"A Dangerous Life" is a new graphic novel aimed at educating young readers about the dangers elephants face at the hands of poachers. The story is by Sheila Hamanaka, with art by Lisa Barile, Rosalie Knox and Julie Lien.
The story follows Amelia, the young heiress of an ivory fortune, as she embarks on a safari in Kenya. She makes friends with Kai, a young traveler from China. Together, they learn about the history of the ivory trade, and the current problems of poaching. The book sends a strong message: poaching not only endangers elephants, but rangers and communities too.
A recent report from the UN Environmental Programme and INTERPOL estimates that 22,000 to 25,000 elephants are killed in Africa by poachers each year, out of a population of 420,000 to 650,000. According to John Scanlon, Secretary-General of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the price of ivory is being driven up as speculators bank on elephants going extinct.
While the issue of poaching needs to be addressed in part by better police enforcement, materials like this can be a tool be to address the demand-end of the problem.
The book is published by the The Animal Welfare Institute and the Kenya Wildlife Service, and is intended for middle school readers. It will be distributed throughout Kenya, particularly to visitors of Kenya’s national parks. It’s also for sale on the Animal Welfare Institute’s website for $4.00.