Reviewing Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam – and Poachers Stay Away
When Nadia’s friend and client, Alison Steadman, sent the New York Times article, ‘Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam – and Poachers Stay Away’ I made a note to read through it.
As the newest member of the Africa Easy team, I want to learn as much as I can and supplement my Africa knowledge with a variety of perspectives and stay up to date on all things Africa, and this good opportunity just landed on my desk.
The beginning of the article was picturesque and immediately absorbed me into the tranquil South African morning at the edge of a water hole in Addo, South Africa. In my mind’s eye, on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, I was in a hide watching the elephants of Addo National Park lumber down to a waterhole.
The notable thing about these Addo elephants is their distinct ‘tusklessness’, a feature that has come about, as the article explains, because of a phenomenon known a ‘genetic drift’ caused by the near-extinction of the species due to poaching in South Africa by people such as Maj. P.J. Pretorius, the notorious ivory hunter, at the turn of the last century. Because of the historic (and modern) large-scale poaching of these elephants, they have been able to evade the fate of extinction by losing their primary feature that has been so coveted by humans: ivory. A small flickering reminder that despite the ‘unnatural selection brought about by poaching’, nature finds a way to survive. And, at the same time, how far we still have to come to ensure the survival of one of the most beloved and the most poached animals the world over. This is an incredible effort, expense and dedication of the park rangers in Addo & elsewhere in Africa to protect these elephants from danger.
Though the demand for elephant ivory (and other elephant products) had dropped some in recent years, demand in China and other Far Eastern countries remains the biggest driver of elephant poaching, which is a stark reminder that an animal’s survival often depends on its perceived value by humans.
The article ends with a powerful quote from the Addo park conservation manager, John Adendorff, “[Elephants] are so incredibly intelligent, they cuddle their young and spank them when they misbehave. But I hate to say that they’re close to humans, because we’re the scourge of this planet. They’re not.”
Though a small drop in the bucket, the combination of these conservation efforts and nature’s incredible ability to adapt to the ever-changing threats caused by us humans, leaves me hopeful that the African Elephant, and the rest of Africa will survive, and that I can make it back to Africa to see for myself, the amazing Elephants of Addo.
To read the NY Times article, ‘Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam – and Poachers Stay Away’ visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/16/world/africa/south-africa-elephants-tusks.html
Elizabeth Jimmerson-Alaeddinoglu, Africa Easy Program Manager