I would like to know your thoughts about this thought am about to share with you.
It’s something that have been bothering my brain for a while. And always eats me up when I see something that make me remember about it.
Why do we value illegal trade of wildlife parts in form of money/price? Why do we place a price tag on them? Estimate what value they would have attracted in both black and illegal market.
There is this beautiful public bench in a filling station along the highway I use on my way home. It’s very beautiful and contain important information and awareness about rhinos.
It does a good job to explain all the reason we should allow rhinos a bright future. Giving us recent updates of their population status. And boldly gives us two choices, “Let it Live or Let it Perish”.
I have no problem with all that. In fact I like it and gives me a smile wherever I pass by. Unfortunately the smile vanishes away shortly. This is because, the information goes ahead to give estimates of rhino’s horn. How much they can be sold out there. Why did they just have to spoil every with that one sentence.
That one sentence handicaps most of conservation effort being spread to the people.
I remember while I was volunteering as an assistant teacher in some secondary school. I introduced wildlife club and we held meetings on Fridays. We could discuss various issues surrounding our environment especially the wildlife. We also held debates and tackle challenging topics.
One day my students brought up a very sensitive and tricky debate. At first, I was shocked but impressed so I agreed we debate about it. It was about the burning of ivory done by our president of Kenya. The burning of ivory is done in support of fight against poaching.
One group supported the motion of burning the ivory. While the other group thought it was wise to sell the ivory and use the money for conservation of the remaining wildlife.
For them, they reasoned that since damage was already done. Why not look at the remaining possibilities of generating positive feedback from the whole horror. Some countries still practise ivory trade legally so trading the ivory could a legit deal.
Its clear this group understood the financial problems facing conservation and thought sale of those ivory would offer some help. Hence innocently fought against the motion. Since for them it was a double loss. The dead wildlife and the burnt ivory.
The other group too did a good job to support their motion. And stood firm that ivory should continue to be burnt. So as to send a message to all poachers and illegal traders of wildlife products.
In the process, I asked myself. What if the students didn’t know the estimated price of the ivory? Or the value of the ivory had been presented in terms of the number of wildlife that had to died in the process? Would they have come up with that motion?
I think its important to change how we price tag the wildlife products. We should be able to show their value through the lives that had been taken away. If its horns or tusks for ten wildlife, then we say the tusks are value of ten precious wildlife innocently killed.
We should see those products as lost lives and not what estimated value that contributed to their death. We should start talking in terms of lives taken away.
Think about it
Most wildlife are found in the third world countries. Where poverty levels are very high. Most of us live hand to mouth. We still have a long way to go. Especially now that we are led by corrupt and greed leaders that add to our many problems.
Conservationists are tirelessly doing their best to spread conservation education and awareness among the local communities. This includes community developments, self-help groups and anything that makes their lives better. Schools have been built, jobs created, new tricks introduced for a better lifestyle, among others.
All these are done for the greater good of the whole community.
The big fish in the poaching will approach individuals and not the whole community. They will look for the weak ones and most greedy ones. Offer them good amount of returns and even quote the market value of the ”merchandise”. They go ahead to tell the poachers recruit to research the same on their own.
They use the same information to fight against conservation and promoting poaching. The figures we give while seizing illegal wildlife products. They literally quote conservationists.
So the lame man is left to choose on whether to give in to the poachers’ deal or stay true to the community expectations. Only the very strong-willed goes past this.
Comparing what they get as a community for saving wildlife. As opposed to what they get as individual for doing the illegal stuff. It gets really tricky.
But if the communities have been made to understand illegal trades in terms of lives taken away. Then everything would be crystal clear.