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This is pathetic. Poor Africans killing elephants because they need the money and the meat. Poachers turned gamekeepers hunting (and killing) poachers because the gamekeepers need the money. Wildlife officials turning a blind eye—and an open wallet—to the trade. International prohibitions that achieve sweet FA. And an elephant population that continues to plummet. Wikipedia reports that 23 sub-Saharan African countries have legalized trophy hunting. It’s time for Kenya to abandon their ban on trophy hunting and get with the program. Legalized hunting would distribute money and meat more effectively to those who need it, continue to feather the nests of corrupt officials (it is what it is) and protect the elephants from over-predation.

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  1. I have some great photos of a couple of herds in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. A couple of weeks ago, some poachers poisoned the water holes with cyanide to kill the elephants for their ivory.
    Now most of the elephants are dead. Rangers were following the buzzards to find the elephants and get the ivory before the poachers. Word from friends down there is that the poison destroyed the entire ecosystem. Every animal that drank from the water hole is dead.
    Guess they aren’t using guns anymore, cause poachers get shot on sight.

  2. Speaking as one who appreciates the grace, beauty, and workmanship of vintage musical instruments, and enjoys repairing, restoring, and replicating them, I also object to the legally mandated destruction of ivory confiscated from poachers. It’s there. It exists. The creatures it came from are already dead. Why not allow this lovely material to be used? White plastic is NOT an acceptable substitute for ivory nuts, saddles, and binding when restoring a nineteenth century New York Martin.

    • Same logic as blood diamonds, I suppose.

      So long as there’s a market – any market – there will be illegal trade in it.

      To me, the need / desire for ivory sounds like an excellent opportunity for applied biotechnology.

      • I don’t want to encourage poachers, but they even destroy ivory from elephants that die of natural causes! Couldn’t it be sold to help pay for their conservation efforts? It’s such a waste.

  3. I would have no interest in shooting one myself, but I lived in rural Michigan and the entire economy revolves around money earned from hunters from Oct 1st- November 30th. I can only imagine what could be gained by such a poor area with year round income from hunters.

      • As much as that would be fun, I don’t think MI has enough space for a herd of mammoths, besides all the damn wolves in the U.P. would eat them all… P.S. I support hunting wolves to control their numbers.

  4. If Obama hadn’t wasted $90+ million on his African photo-op/discovering his roots vacation this year that money could have gone to help save the elephants. The $90 million money could have also been used to feed hungry American school children. The money could have been used in the American War on Obesity which yearly kills about 400,000 some of them children or the American War on Smoking which kills more than 400,000 yearly. The Horror. The Horror.

    • Actually horse meat is legal in lots of places, it’s just not legal or ethical to grind it up and sell it as cow.

      • I wasnt referring to the international market in that reference. I wasnt really even debating the ethics of whats in what meat so much as pointing out (in a roundabout way) that this is TTAG, not TTA hunting. I dont and wont hunt, dont see anything wrong with it when it controls a population (deer/hogs) but its nit for me. But promoting hunting an animal with a painfully dwindling population is where I draw a line. Notto mention where in this article ANYWHERE does it have any relationship to guns?

        • Well I think the point is if people SHOOT the elephants and pay to do so it helps the local economy and decreases the number of poachers. I see your point but that could easily be remedied. What caliber rifle would you use to shoot an elephant?

        • In a word. BIG. a Really really big caliber. The closer to a “light” anti tank rifle the better.

        • Vendetta, you’re allowing your bias against hunting to blind you from a very salient observation: hunting promotes game management. Ultimately people are looking to make money in Kenya. A trophy hunter could pay $30K plus to shoot an elephant in the legal market. That money supports harvesting the entire animal including the tusks, meat, oils, hide, etc. When elephants are harvested legally, the animal is used in a more ethical and efficient manner. The same money to purchase licenses, permits and guides can be channeled back into the legitimate hunting industry to support habitat and game management. A clear economic incentive exists for sustainable hunting practices. It has happened in many other places, and in other African countries. Those involved have seen game animals and economies flourish.

          A ban on hunting has turned to poaching. Surprise! Criminals don’t follow the rules with guns. We’ve seen that before. If there is a market, it will be filled whether it is legal or not. Pardon the pun, but nature abhors a vacuum. Lets fill that market in a legal and legitimate manner. It’s better for the people, better for the country, and better for the game animal.

  5. Anyone who is for hunting a near endangered species of such intelligence such as the elephant has no conscious. I despise those that travel to exotic places just to kill exotic animals. My uncle has done this most his life and during family stuff like xmas I taunt him with a contest of us hunting each other, he declines every year being his game needs to be easy too shoot. He also quit bringing pictures of his travels after I ripped up the last bunch some years ago.
    I’m pro-hunting, just not for animals that serve no purpose to hunt. Africans have been starving forever, and now that this amazing yet brutal continent is so overpopulated and more poor, there could be endless amounts of elephants, which there are not, and still it wouldn’t be enough to feed them.
    I wish every hunter of exotic game to meet a fate they so well deserve.

    • Your uncle has done more good for wildlife conservation than you ever will.

      It may seem counterintuitive to someone who’s opinion is based on television psa’s but the financial resources that go into legal hunting dwarf that of animal right organizations.

      Sorry but your uncle does more for the animals AND for the economies of the people who live around them.

    • “He also quit bringing pictures of his travels after I ripped up the last bunch some years ago.”


      All hunters are on the same team so start acting like it.

  6. Privatize and enable the farming of elephants, tigers, and all of the other sought after exotic animals. I’m not saying that wild animals should all be in pens. This problem would easily be solved if you enabled the farming of those wild animals. When is the last time you heard of a beef or poultry shortage? Didn’t think so.

    • Exactly right. Capitalism economizes, while socialist central planning creates shortages and tragedies of the commons. This is true for all scarce resources, whether we are talking about cars, or steaks, and or elephants.

  7. I don’t really post, but this post, by Farago no less, got me off my butt to write in. There’s something to be said for managed hunting. That is not when it comes to the plight of elephants in Africa. You’re facing a trade that is in the stages of the American Bison; or whale hunting during the 19th century. The herds are WAY too depleted to be “sustainable” when the motivating factor- Chinese herbal medicine- is the driving factor. 1 billion + potential consumers (not counting chinese ex-pats who still practice destructive herbal medicine- Ivory is easily found in San Francisco’s and New York’s Chinatown) will consume anything quickly, but ivory is a special case. The idea of “managing” ivory trade when there is an emerging country with little to no idea of conservation driving the trade and an emerging country with little to no idea of conservation feeding the trade for an endangered animal is ludicrous.

    Also, there are ideas of “farming” elephants in a Forbes article. Ridiculous. Elephants have much too large a range, much too complex a social structure, and a non-market-ready commodity- their tusks grow with size. It would be like trying to “farm” redwood trees- they only really have a lot of value when they’re at least 200 years old, preferably more like 400. Elephants have to get older to get bigger, more valuable tusks- it’s like trophy hunters, you need to have little hunting to produce large specimen. Most hunters in America actually care a lot about the meat; with elephants, aside from a few defense of crops and livelihood, there is very little killing of elephants for meat (think the amount of meat an elephant has, and the lack of refrigeration).

    I understand you have to generate new content, and like to create out of the box solutions. Fine. A much better idea would be to take stockpiles and confiscated ivory, and instead of a one time sale, to create annual sales based off the number of confiscated/estimated poached animals each year. Less poaching, more sales; more poaching, less sales.

    Elephants are some of the most magnificent animals on the face of the Earth, African elephants especially so. I remember the awe I had of elephants as a child, and go to see elephants at least a few times a year. When you read of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants, it’s impossible to picture without seeing a real live african elephant to truly appreciate this history. Elephants are a keystone species, a cultural touchstone that cannot be truly valued.

  8. I meant grow with AGE. And that it takes decades to get BIG tusks.

    Also, the idea of trying to make elephants a market commodity… Ever hear of a “white elephant”? Any guesses where the phrase came from? Elephants are essentially impossible to domesticate unless you completely change the meaning of what an elephant is, to the point that maybe it grows tusks, and that is the only similarity to elephants today…

    Ever wonder why tigers, leopards, and other large megafauna aren’t farmed? Maybe someone else already TRIED the idea of farming these animals, which have had incredible value for thousands of years… and failed. Every time.

    • Negative, Tiger farming is very successful –

      One of the main reason tiger farming is not done is because of its endangered species status. Lion farming is very successful.

      You may have an argument about the difficulty about raising elephants, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you allowed a private citizen to profit from the hunt of his or her private herd of elephants, someone would figure out how to do it well.

      • Damn straight. The Chinese market demand is definitely troublesome. I’m not saying that enforcement should not be levied against poachers – I’m saying that hunting, conservation, and game management works a whole lot better than hunting bans and poachers. Again, merely banning an activity does not stop its occurrence. See: prohibition, murder, gun free zones, etc.

        • The problem with that, Accur81, is “conservation hunting” is completely different than the hunting going on here.

          Let’s take a hunter that wants his “Big 5”. Let’s say he pays $15,000 for the opportunity. That money positively helps conservation. The alternative is the hunter, who, let’s say for the sake of the argument, if not supported by facts, is NOT Black, or even if he is, stands out like a sore thumb. He (another assumption!) then must sneak into Kenya, find a poacher outfit that can get him to location, all without being seen, and then try to kill an elephant- all the while rangers are actively trying to kill him. The cost/benefit equation goes towards a hunter who is rich enough to travel to Africa to pay the fees to hunt in a way that promotes conservation.

          Let’s take a state-sponsored Chinese carving facility (yes, the Chinese government actually SPONSORS ivory carving directly). They don’t care how the ivory is obtained. So, instead of risking their precious behind, poor Africans, let’s say Somalians, in honor of the new Al Shabaab connection being promoted in the news between Islamic terrorism and ivory, are risking themselves. Suddenly, the cost/benefit situation is completely different.

          This is the difference between people traveling to Amsterdam to smoke a bowl and eat some shrooms and people buying drugs in the street. Apples and durians.

  9. I have a better idea. How about legalizing trophy hunting of poachers. I’m sure there are lots of people all over the world who would pay big money to hunt The Most Dangerous Game legally, and they would be doing the world a great deal of good.

    Not much meat, though.

  10. One way to help solve this issue. Go out tank the elifants, cut the tusks off, destroy the tusks, no need to kill them.

  11. I fail to see the logic in the excuse that by allowing trophy hunters to kill elephants it will prevent the poachers from killing elephants.

    Wouldn’t that just mean there would be more people killing elephants and ultimately more of them killed?

    I was brought up thinking that 1 + 1 = 2.

    Poachers are going to keep on murdering these caring and intelligent animals until they are extinct. Trophy hunters only contribution to the problem is to accelerate that extinction.

    Why not make it legal and actually pay trophy hunters a bounty for each poacher killed? After all, man is the most dangerous prey!

      • Marcus, purely logistically speaking- please, no politics- the idea of creating a secure border between the US and Mexico has sparked a lot of doubt as to if that is possible. Many countries in Africa are nearly the size of the US, with tons less people, tons less money. If America has doubts, as the richest, most militarily advanced nation the world has ever seen, about being able to patrol a couple thousand miles of border, how are African nations without all the benefits America has supposed to patrol an even greater area, where there is no single border area, but rather swaths of land to protect?

        • So, it’s an impossible task to protect the herds? Between corruption, pourus borders and an isatiable appetite for ivory in some corners. So, legal trophy hunting isn’t going to alter the outcome and for a time at least it will benefit the locals who support it.


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