A living elephant is worth a staggering 76 times more alive than dead for its tusks according to new report: Dead or Alive: Valuing an elephant, released by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s iWorry campaign.
There are a plethora of exceptional reasons as to why we must protect elephants, from their intelligence and right to life, their essential role in shaping the environment all the way through to the associated involvement of terrorist organisations benefiting from the illegal ivory trade. Even so, there still seemingly remains an apathy on the part of government leaders to direct the true financial and human resources needed to saving the species, there is a lot of talk and small steps are being taken, but too slowly and too small. The report ‘Dead or Alive’ aims to add another argument as to why elephants must be protected and for some, witnessing the financial reasons will carry the greatest impact, as ultimately government leaders are looking to ‘balance the books’.
The report shows that thanks to tourists willing to pay generously for a chance to see and photograph the world’s largest land mammal, an elephant contributes $1,607,624.83 to travel companies, airlines and local economies over its lifetime. By comparison, dead an elephant is worth $21,000 (raw ivory estimate) to fund criminal groups, corrupt officials and even terrorist groups.
The report also found approx. 17.8 tonnes of trafficked ivory was seized worldwide between January – August 2014. Yet with customs typically seizing just 10% of goods, this suggests 178 tonnes of ivory could have been illegally trafficked or nearly 20,000 elephants killed.
“Protecting Africa’s elephants makes monetary sense and in the long term, elephants are worth more alive roaming the world’s savannah and forests than their tusks are sitting on a mantle. That’s a powerful argument to convince policy makers to protect them” says Rob Brandford, iworry campaign director.
Ivory is harvested from elephant’s tusks, with one elephant killed every 15 minutes for its tusks. A key driver of elephant poaching across Africa is ongoing demand for ivory from China and other Far Eastern Countries. Last year, an estimated 50 tonnes of ivory was seized worldwide and poaching has now reached critical levels.
Read the full report: