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Don’t Let Elephants Disappear –
Don’t listen to the hype about why overturning the ban on bringing elephant trophies from Africa should be all right…
Very wealthy people spend thousands of dollars hunting elephants and other wildlife in Africa. They say they are just taking out the old ones, culling the herd, feeding the locals, or introducing money into the village economy. None of that is true. Kill an old elephant, usually the matriarch, and the herd loses its knowledge and institutional memory. Elephant numbers are decreasing so fast that at the current rate they will be extinct in ten years without removing the ban on trophies.
Locals are not allowed to eat wildlife anymore, and while they might like to have an elephant to eat, it’s not a solution to their hunger or poverty. It’s a one-time “feel good” opportunity for the hunter’s ego. And the money from these hunts almost never trickles down to the villagers who are most in need and live in constant scarcity. Corruption and other problems divert the money away from where it could do some good.
But the other thing you should know is that if elephants become extinct, we will feel the effects here at home. Elephants are a keystone species. All bush wildlife depends on them to push down trees and create grasslands so herbivores can graze and to dig watering holes during droughts. If there are no more elephants, the bush becomes an impenetrable thicket and the trees that grow undigested in nutrient-rich elephant dung will no longer be dispersed for 20-30 miles as elephants forage each day. Without elephants, more wildlife will die during droughts because elephants aren’t there to dig down to aquifers they know how to find and to share fresh water.
If there are no elephants and there is no food for herbivores in the African bush, there is no game for hyenas, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, lions, and other carnivores to eat. The other species that depend on this food chain will have no ecosystem left to support them. The trees that don’t grow and the thickets that do will add to our greenhouse warming which affects the entire planet. It’s not just that elephants are sentient, self-aware beings and we should save them because they are so cool. We need them as environmental stewards to help ecosystems thrive. The extinction of a major species is an ecological disaster. Don’t let elephants disappear.