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January 19, 2013

The Fate of Our Elephants…might be in your hands

As Tropical Ice begins its 35th year in business, the subject that concerns us most today is the same one that dominated our thoughts when we started: the survival of the African elephant.

Back in 1978 Japan was the main culprit behind elephant poaching. Today it is a vastly more worrying situation as the massive slaughter of elephants is from many fronts: the burgeoning Chinese middle class and their ignorant desire for ivory; renegade guerrilla fighters in eastern and central Africa who fund their useless little wars with elephant ivory; African drug barons who have found that ivory can be moved efficiently through their well-worn trade routes; human and livestock encroachment upon natural elephant habitat; and finally, the corrupt African political elite who make it easy for all of the above mentioned.

It is encouraging that it is finally receiving media attention. In 2011 an excellent feature on elephant poaching appeared in Vanity Fair. Last October’s issue of National Geographic had a cover story, entitled BLOOD IVORY, which described the slaughter of 25,000 elephants in Africa during the past year, and the devious support this received from The Vatican, who actively encourage religious trinkets made from ivory. They have failed to endorse CITES (Convention In The Trade of Endangered Species). The actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are supposedly working on a big movie project based on the ivory trade. And the recent massacre of 11 elephants in Tsavo found its way to the front page of the New York Times.

It is interesting that in the 1980’s we lost 15,000 elephants in Tsavo and it barely caused a ripple on the international stage. It is pathetic that the survival of this magnificent species may depend upon how topical (read “sexy”), this becomes in the media for people to finally sit up and say “enough”.

Tropical Ice’s 35 year journey has been strongly linked to the elephant. Those who have joined us on our award-winning Great Walk of Africa will have heard us say that there are only two forms of wildlife in Africa: The first is the elephant and the second is everything else. It is one of the world’s great charismatic species, an animal with unbounded intelligence, and it is agonising to think that they are being wiped out as we speak. It is no exaggeration to say that a child being born today will in all probability never see an elephant in the wild.

Referring to the elephant slaughter in the 1980’s, Iain Douglas-Hamilton wrote, “The premature elimination of elephants over much of their range represents one of the most wasteful mammalian tragedies of the century.” Today, in a world where money rules, and human greed is unprecedented, it is doubtful if there is the will left to save the elephant. It might be that those who are trying are merely monitoring the extinction of the species.

In recent days we’ve received emails from past clients asking what they can do to help save the elephant. We can tell you with all sincerity that by making the effort to come and see them in their natural habitat, you are making an inestimable contribution. Sadly, for the elephant to survive it must pay its way. In modern-day Africa only money speaks amongst the political elite. If tourists shy away until the elephant problems are solved it will disappear from our planet within 15 years. Tourist dollars can create a “stop-gap” solution for the elephant, perhaps buy it some time, while the international community applies the necessary pressures, and brings to book those who are causing this devastation.

Tropical Ice has created a place for itself in the long history of Tsavo National Parks by working together with the Kenya Wildlife Service. We worked closely with the legendary warden, Bill Woodley, during the poaching of the 1980’s and we continue supporting the Kenya Wildlife Service today.

Our Great Walk crosses a region where 13,000 elephants still exist, and we are convinced that our presence has helped to protect this population. We are in constant contact with strategic anti-poaching patrols; we are continually on the alert for signs of poachers; and our visitors bring with them vital revenue in the form of park, camp and permit fees.

This is our modest contribution to save the animal that we so admire. Perhaps others know of a better way. We ask that you tell your friends about the illegal ivory trade and about Tropical Ice.

Fot further details or info contact Dave @ / Tele: + 44 (0) 1476 530927

Category: Blog

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