Ivory and the trinkets made from it are in high demand globally. So much so that despite restrictions on illegal poaching and trafficking, elephants are still being killed at a tremendous rate of 35,000 per year.
As a matter of animal welfare/rights, cruelty/abuse should have the same meaning for a dog in China as the U.S. Identifying animals by their nationality stretches sovereignty -- people can be rabidly nationalistic but dogs cannot.
World Wildlife Day is an occasion to remember that in spite of protections provided by CITES much of the world's wildlife remains in crisis. The many threats they face include habitat loss, climate change, over-exploitation, and unregulated development.
The mass killing of elephants is tragic. But demand for new ivory, not items legally imported decades or centuries ago, fuels the trade. Governments should penalize poachers and their seller allies -- not responsible collectors and dealers who have followed the rules.
Shark Week is back. The Discovery Channel's annual fear-fest has led millions of Americans -- including some of our own friends and family -- to warily scan their beach waters each August for lurking fins.
Having survived the harsh conditions of the desert and peacefully and coexisting alongside the local populations for centuries, the current political instability and its consequences is yet another stress to this elephant population, already at the limit of its endurance.
Now, shrunk from perhaps 90 percent of their former range by sprawling human populations and suffering relentless killing, elephant numbers are down to well under half a million -- a drop of 98 percent since just 1800.
Poaching has been intermittently addressed by the UN Security Council as part of the conflicts and broad human rights abuses cited. However, is poaching and the illegal trade the motivation rather than just the means?
Increasingly, those that supply pet cheetahs (usually cubs) to their owners, obtain the animals from sources that operate illegally, taking the cheetahs from the wild, and in some cases killing the mother to gain the cubs.
Since the economic ascent of China does not look likely to falter anytime soon, there is only one way to save elephants from extinction by poaching: a complete and permanent global ban on the trade of ivory.
If present trends of industrial overfishing continue, there will be no commercially viable wild fisheries left by mid-century, and CITES failed at its recent meeting to intervene on this looming catastrophe.