Dear Mr. President,
In constant fear I live. Dreadful of the day the poacher and his gun will find me, I graze. The pain I will feel is unfathomable. Will he ruthlessly kill me as he did my father Satao? Severe Sorrow, I have known the past two decades Your Excellency. Rarely do I enjoy the beautiful sunrise walks in the Tsavo. Seldom do I stroll down to Mzima Springs to quench my thirst.
My white magnificent tusks; a source of woe they have become. The ruthless greedy poacher with his poisoned arrow and gun always on the hunt for me.The zebras, lions, buffaloes, leopards and giraffes I watch from my hiding place. Peacefully, happily and freely they roam the Tsavo. Silently I wish for the same. The Rhino too I spot, melancholy written all over his face. Just like I, he too is hunted for his horn.
Despite balancing all the other species in the ecosystem, opening up forest land to create firebreaks and grasslands, digging to create water access for other animals, and leaving nutrients in their wake, my existence, the inhumane poachers see no value. My tusks they adore. At whatever cost they are willing to get them. Are my tusks more important than the revenue I earn your country each year? I ponder.
My cousins at the David Sheldrick’s Wildlife Trust told me, that you led the country a week ago in torching 105 tons of Ivory. Oh! 8000 members of my family lost due to greed and self-interest. Terribly, I miss my uncle: The Mighty Mountain Bull. Just like my father, he too lost his life at the expense of Ivory necklaces and sculptures.
I have been informed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) that, Africa is home to between 450,000 to 500,000 elephants, but more than 30,000 elephants are killed every year in the continent to satisfy the demand for ivory in Asia.
The Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program, a site‐based monitoring system under (CITES) also told me that they recorded a steady increase in the illegal killing of elephants between 2006 and 2011.This is despite the ban on international Ivory trade that was passed by CITES in 1989.
For your efforts to protect us I do applaud you, but a lot still needs to be done if my family and I are to freely roam the scenic landscapes of Tsavo, Maasai Mara and Amboseli.
Tackling the demand for Ivory should be your utmost priority. There has been a paradigm shift in conservation thinking that acknowledges demand for ivory as the key factor driving my poaching. And currently, the demand for ivory exceeds the supply. Isn’t it ironic how China is the leading driver of illegal trade in Ivory yet it values and protects strictly its wild elephants in Xishuangbanna?
Communities we live next to have no incentive whatsoever to engage in our conservation and protection. To them we are a nuisance that only benefits tourists and annihilate their farms and homes. Thus when approached by a poacher for a couple of shillings for our tusks. They are bound to kill us with no second thought. What if you involved these communities in our conservation? Shared with them the benefits that accrue from our conservation and protection? Would we still be killed so ruthlessly?
Rangers assigned to take care of us have no special equipment to execute the task at hand your Excellency. Wouldn’t it be considerate if you invested in Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Remote Sensing equipments to track us while grazing and trained the rangers on how to use them too?
Creating wildlife corridors which are large sections of land that allow us to move from one national park to another—and even from one country to another freely and safely would be of utmost essence to us Mr. President than burning the Ivory which only pollutes our environment by releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
Please hear my cry Your Excellency!
Devastated, worried Mara The Elephant.