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Continuous Elephant Slaughter Leads to March for Elephants

By Benh LIEU SONG / Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr: Elephants Family) [<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0">CC-BY-SA-2.0</a>], <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHerd_of_Elephants.jpg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Weighing in at over 13,000 lbs and standing just at 13 feet with dextrous but powerful trunks and tusks made of ivory, elephants represent an icon in many cultures and religions. Sadly, they are endangered.

African elephants are ruthlessly poached for their tusks, which are sold illicitly on the black market. According to a recent National Geographic article, it hasn’t stopped nearly 100,000 elephants from being killed in Africa within the last three years. Several recent significant killings have brought the dire situation to light, devastating both the communities and individuals who strive to protect them. The machine gun massacre of elephants in Cameroon in 2012 and the loss of a much-loved and well-known elephant in Kenya are just two of many examples.

Some experts believe big steps need to be made in documenting elephant decline. With the help of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, George Wittemyer and his team are performing a study to get more accurate figures on the number of elephant deaths in specific areas to really give the relevant authorities something to chew on and dictate policies by. His publications and studies are available online, offering ways to get involved.

But it’s not just scientists that are able to help these gentle giants—the campaign to save the elephants is going global on October 4th 2014.

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is an initiative to rally unanimous support group to demand better laws and more consistent efforts protecting the wild animals and halting the ancient, but long out-dated, trade in ivory for medicine and other illegal uses. The site quotes that 1 elephant is killed every 15 minutes worldwide.

The March Against Extinction aims to raise global awareness, shut down all ivory and elephant tusk retailers, and send a “memorandum of demand” to various authorities outlining exactly how they can play a part in reducing and stopping the illicit poaching. You can get involved in a number of ways listed on their website.

On October 4, 2014, cities all around the world will be filled with conscientious animal lovers who believe an elephant is worth more than its tusk. London, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham are all taking part, as are other cities all across Europe, the Middle East, South America and Australia. The United States boasts a huge number of passionate groups taking part, ranging from Atlanta to New York to Seattle to San Francisco. Your city can be located easily under #findyourcity on the March 4 Elephants and Rhinos website. This has become particularly poignant over the last few days as wildlife experts have spoken at a conference in Mozambiquewhere they confirmed that 22 elephants were found slaughtered in Mozambique in the first two weeks of September, The Guardian reports. The killings took place at the Niassa Reserve, the country’s biggest game reserve, where conservationists say the destruction of the revered giants is becoming industrialized.

Although Mozambique has been heavily criticized by CITES for being one of the worst countries for enforcing laws to combat illegal poaching, many argue that a large portion of the problem lies in the consumption of ivory-related products. Ivory from Mozambique has been traced to markets in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The fact needs to be confronted that supply will cease, or at least decrease, without continuing demand for illicit ivory.

Kathryn Bigelow created a three-minute PSA that is to be debuted at the New York Film Festival about the money that comes from the illegal ivory trade. It opens with the provocative question: “When you buy something made of ivory, where does the money go?” The PSA goes on to state that the money goes to terrorist organizations such as Nigeria’s Boko Harem, Sudan’s Janjaweed Militia, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab.

The sad announcement of these figures has only increased the anger and passion fueling the marches later on this week.

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