Eliminate the Causes of Elephant Poaching


Target: Sierra Club President David Scott

Goal: Persuade the Sierra Club to treat the root causes of elephant poaching, not just the symptoms, by working to create economic opportunities in rural Africa

Any war fought through purely defensive means is doomed from its very start – and yet this is the fate to which we have condemned the war on elephant poaching. Despite many worthy efforts at training new anti-poaching rangers and cracking down on the ivory trade, African elephants are still on a collision course with extinction. To win this war for the very survival of these gentle creatures, we need to address the cause of poaching – economic need.

In 1930, there were somewhere between 5-10 million elephants in Africa; today, less than 1% of that number remains. Despite the ban on ivory trade and continued efforts to safeguard this population, their number is shrinking rapidly, getting smaller on a daily basis.

It is easy to think of poachers in only negative terms. They do, after all, commit acts of great cruelty in their quest for ivory. But humans, like any other animal, need to eat. We do not call wolves cruel for hunting and killing deer, nor do we assign malice to cats who “play” with mice. The fact is that the great driver of poaching is poverty. In the poor, rural areas of Africa where poaching takes place, both employment and agricultural opportunities are extremely limited, and people must resort to poaching to feed their families.

We cannot and should not abandon our efforts to train rangers and crack down on the global ivory trade. However, without attacking the root causes of poaching, such as economic need, we can only slow down the inevitable. We must act now to create economic opportunities for would-be poachers, allowing both human and elephant families to flourish together. Time is running out.


Dear Sierra Club President David Scott

Despite continued efforts to promote anti-poacher ranger training, African elephants are nearing extinction. While these training programs are essential, and must continue, we must also address the root cause of the poaching – poverty.

Poachers are not evil. They are human, just like us, and most act from a need to feed themselves and their children. They have certainly not made a good choice, but they don’t have good options.

I urge you to lead the charge on this under-served front in the war on elephant poaching by allocating resources towards the creation of economic opportunities in the rural areas of Africa where poverty creates the need to poach. Give these people a better option, and give the elephants a chance at survival.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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