Vegan World Radio

We had the pleasure of being on Vegan World Radio KPFT 90.1FM Houston Tuesday evening, October 1st to share about the ivory trade and the upcoming march for elephants! Below is a transcript of most of what we covered (although time did not permit us to speak to everything!) Elizabeth Chitwood’s interview begins around the 15 minute mark:

Notes for Radio Interview: October 1, 2013

Hello and thank you for having me on Vegan World Radio this evening! I am excited to be spreading awareness about this important issue - ivory poaching.Currently, every 15 minutes one elephant is killed for his or her ivory. That’s roughly 96 elephants a day. And just last year alone, it is estimated that 30,000 of Africa’s elephants were killed by poachers. With approximately 400,000 elephants left in the wild, if nothing is done to stop this demand for ivory, elephants will be extinct in Africa by 2025. The rampant killing of elephants has been deemed an “elephant genocide” by many conservationists

Ivory is in high demand in countries like China as the middle class grows, but most people don’t realize that the US is the second highest importer for ivory. So this issue is something we here in the US are deeply involved with and should care about. Although ivory was banned in 1986 by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) the ban was temporarily lifted in 2008 for a sale of existing stockpiles of ivory which has led to the problems we face today.

Let me tell you a little bit about the poachers - many of these poachers are linked with terrorist groups. Most notably, Al Shabaab who recently killed at least 67 people in the attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya - reportedly they obtain 40% of their funding through ivory poaching. 1 lb of ivory fetches over $1000 USD on the black market. These poachers come heavily armed with machine guns & night vision goggles - the rangers who are working in the parks to protect the elephants, are often ill-equipped or prepared to fight these terrorists. In the last 10 years over 5,000 rangers have lost their lives at the hands of poachers.

Many people ask why the tusks don’t just grow back. In China, most people believe tusks are like any other teeth, if removed, they will grow back. However, this is simply not true. A tusk is a living tissue, with one third of the tusk embedded in the elephant’s skull. It is full of nerves and some of those nerves stretch to the tip of the tusk. Thus removing a tusk is very painful. And poachers often remove the tusks using hacksaws or machetes while the elephant is still alive, cutting off the elephant’s face to get to the whole tusk. It is a gruesome, inhumane, evil practice that kills elephants AND as I explained earlier, kills humans.

So what can be done about it? Right? I hope that when you hear these facts, you are moved to care about this issue and to take a stand against it. To save the elephants. In Kenya, 300,000 people rely on wildlife-tourism for their jobs. Their livelihoods are being directly affected by this elephant massacre. However, there is an amazing organization taking large strides to protect elephants and equip rangers - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation. Recently they have gained a lot of media attention as Kenya’s First Lady has joined them in her new campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants”, Yao Ming & numerous actors and actresses from the states have also vowed to end the poaching crisis working with DSWF. And on October 4, DSWF has organized an international march for the elephants to bring more awareness about this issue to major cities worldwide. Houston is proud to be coordinating a support march at City Hall Friday from

11am-12pm with speakers from the Houston Zoo Wildlife Conservation Department, field scientist & PhD student from Rice University and local awareness group Elephantopia. We plan to be loud, so the whole world hears on Oct 4 (World Animal Day) that we are committed to saving the elephants!

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