Monday, October 21, 2013


I’m not sure I want to be a human animal anymore and as I approach my 83rd birthday I guess I won’t be for that much longer. The fashionable age to snuff it at the moment seems to be 84. I have lost count of the petitions I have signed mostly regarding the treatment of animals but each day brings yet another horror story. The treatment of gays in Iraq doesn’t bear thinking about and to a slightly lesser extent Russia; the treatment of women and girl children in some countries and cultures ditto.
If I believed in the efficacy of prayer, which I don’t, I would pray that all those billions of religious people who expend so much energy worrying about heaven and hell, neither of which in my opinion actually exist, and spent more time endeavoring to make the world a better place we might at last start to achieve a better sense of both practical and moral priorities. In my naivety I thought that the macabre belief in that mythical place of everlasting hellfire had gone out with the Dark Ages, indulgences, pieces of the true cross, Jesus’ foreskin and the rest of the crap, but obviously not and there are those who absolutely delight in the idea that millions of the godless will suffer an eternity of having the flesh burnt off their bones. What flesh? What bones? You’ve either rotted away in a nice damp coffin or been incinerated in the crematorium and your ashes preserved in a vase or scattered to the four winds. Dust to dust as the old saying has it. Candide might have been told that this is the best of all possible words but if you stop to think about it for only a moment the Great Designer didn’t know his elbow from his drawing board.
Cruelty apart one never realizes or stops to think of the criminal damage caused by the trade in wildlife, a trade that is reported to be worth millions and in some instances even threatens the stability of certain governments.
Soaring prices for ivory and rhino horn have prompted a "gold rush" in poaching across much of Africa. The belief that rhino horn has medicinal qualities is as macabre as is the belief in hellfire. You might just as well use finger nail clippings’ to achieve the same effect – i.e. nada. But the rhino is being poached and will go on being slaughtered no doubt to extinction unless something drastic can be done. Well it does seem steps are being taken. In South Africa I believe rhinos are being sedated and their horns poisoned and in Kenya there is an ambitious plan to microchip every rhino in the country in an endeavor to curb the poaching. The chip will be implanted in the horn of more than a thousand animals. It will be possible to trace stolen horns and perhaps create a better chance of prosecuting the poachers. The project is being supported by the World Wildlife Fund which has donated the chips and five scanners at a cost of nearly ten thousand pounds. It is estimated that this is only a fraction of what will be needed to track and dart each rhino and fit the chip.
Despite a 23-year ban on international trade in ivory, elephants continue to be shot for their prized tusks, with much of the material ending up on sale in China.
The very future of the African elephant could be at risk. Last year saw the highest number of large seizures of illegal ivory for more than two decades. From Kenya to Zambia, and particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, law-enforcement and conservation authorities are facing a continuing battle with the poacher, with thousands of elephants killed each year. In Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, poached ivory is openly on sale at large, unregulated markets. The Chinese undercover reporter for the BBC was offered whole raw ivory tusks in one market, including one giant piece about 1.5m long for $10,000 (£6,000).
The destinations of all contraband ivory are always neighboring countries around China. Until the middle of last year Malaysia had not made a single large ivory seizure in nearly a decade. But there have been several large seizures since then, amounting to six tonnes of ivory that would have come from approximately 700 dead elephants.
Securing the future of Africa's elephants will mean not just beating the poachers but also tackling black-market sales on the other side of the world in China. Perhaps one day there will be no need for orphanages for baby elephants whose mothers have been killed by poachers but with the amount of money involved don’t hold your breath.

One last horror story and I’m done. “MASSACRE OF THE DOLPHINS” the large headline reads. Is massacre too strong a word? Evidently not because 10000 dolphins a year are being slaughtered by Peruvian fisherman just for bait to catch endangered sharks! Evidently the sharks are attracted by the smell of blood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We still love you Glyn!