The world is ending as of Friday. Most likely there will not be any more elephants, human beings, or even any Earth. Money will be nothing, other than another subject of the annihilation. So when you open the newspaper and you read about the 1,500 elephant tusks seizure in Kuala Lumpur, all that you can think about is: why?
Image courtesy of AWF Goes Wild
Why, if they will all disappear, do poachers continue the massacre? Why do they perpetuate the violence in the last days of their life? It’s not just horrible, it’s counterproductive, self-defeating. In comparison with death everything is nothing, including the ivory demand from Asia. The $20 millions shipment intercepted in Port Klang has no meaning when the Maya calendar promises the destruction of our planet. This is a reflection to say that in these moments, especially in these moments, people should focus on priorities other than cruelty for economic purposes. Moreover, it’s nearly Christmas, a time of year when everyone should be good and charitable. This is a contradiction, you will say, since the world is ending before Christmas. Let’s consider the pros and the cons of this poachers’ action.
Image courtesy of Clare Smith, Frontier South Africa Field Guide Course volunteer
I strongly believe that the only way humanity has to evolve is with compassion, which means the capacity of feeling anothers’ feelings. That’s not easy, especially when you face poachers but it’s definitely a good experiment. We the western countries are democracies, we believe in the confrontation with what is different, as a possibility to gain the best, and to do the best. This is what we want to do now, with poachers, because obviously they have their own reasons to do what they have done.
Consider. They have brutally killed something like 600 elephants to sell their tusks in China, through Malaysian harbours, because they probably needed money to buy Christmas presents for their children, since the Eve is quickly approaching. It is well known: with 20 million dollars you could buy many presents. At the same time, they were providing the material (the ivory) that Asian people would have used to build other presents for their Christmas. Their celebration is after ours, but, since the end of the world is near, they feared to be left without elephants, so they decided to act immediately.
A Chinese ivory carving gift to the UN in 1974. Image courtesy of Rob Young
Or maybe Christmas is not the reason. Maybe, since the 21st December is behind the corner, poachers are just trying to accumulate as much as they can, to face the end as rich as possible. Perhaps those buying the ivory are hoping to bring it with them to the afterlife – all 20-24 tons of it. Maybe because someone has taught them that they need ivory to access the paradise. Who knows? I don’t. I am not even sure they believe in afterlife. But it doesn’t matter.
Nothing matters anymore. Not even these reasons. Because the final conclusion is near. How can it be considered intelligent to buy $20 million worth of presents for your children, if, as we said, there won’t be any Christmas? Furthermore, why would you want to get rich if in 10 days you will lose everything? If then you believe in afterlife, why you would want to arrive there stained by the blood of 1500 elephant tusks and many park rangers’ lives? It is at least curious. They should probably stay with their children, laugh with them, and make sure that their last act is love. It would be much more productive, as well as ethically correct.
By Italo Marzotto
Italo is from Italy and is currently taking part in the London NGO Internship at Frontier headquarters. Read more article by Italo here.
If you're interested in working in elephant conservation visit the Frontier website and view the South Africa volunteer projects.