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Burning Tusks

I am just as happy to not have been in Kenya for the event, today, of burning of thousands of tons of poached ivory.
I say this because I don’t think the obvious symbolism is going to make any meaningful difference in the war on poaching.
I am very definitely and adamantly opposed to the illegal hunting and killing of any animal, whether for trophy or monetary gain. And I applaud those who seek to make bold statements and back them up with actions to combat the scourge on wildlife that poaching is. But, when you destroy what is still, in many parts of the world (rightly or wrongly… I believe wrongly), a commodity, you only serve to 1) drive up the price, and 2) make those who profit from the trade more determined to continue.
I know my view is somewhat controversial, and not the PC way of framing the debate. But our focus needs to be on prevention, before the fact, not on relatively meaningless photo ops, after the fact. As they say, it’s hard to close the barn door after the horses have fled.
So, what’s the answer? I believe that there are many organizations that are doing great work, particularly with respect to elephant and rhino poaching in Africa. The most effective of these are involved in a many faceted approach… education, rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned animals, emphasis on sustainable habitats, and, most importantly, ruthless enforcement of laws governing the illegal hunting of ANY type of wildlife. There are also a number of paramilitary organizations that specialize in shutting down the often very sophisticated poaching operations, and bringing those who are involved to justice.
So, while I understand the motivation behind the huge burning ceremony, today, I fear that it will do more harm than good.
My $.02 … take it or leave it.

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