Target: Professor Judi Wakhungu, Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Water & Natural Resources, Kenya
Goal: End illegal elephant poaching in Kenya.
Approximately 36,000 elephants are killed annually – that’s roughly 100 per day or one every 15 minutes. In Central Africa, the elephant population has declined by 64 percent in the past decade. New births are unable to keep pace with the killings and African elephants could be extinct as soon as 2025.
Elephants are complex, highly intelligent, and very social animals. They are the largest animals on land, weighing between 5,000-14,000 pounds and standing as tall as 13 feet. Their trunks are used to draw in water that they then shoot into their mouths. Their ears are used to regulate their body temperature. Elephants care for the sick in a herd and even engage in death rituals when a loved herd member dies. They need their tusks for fighting, feeding, and playing.
Kenya’s elephant population is about 38,000. Due to increased ivory demand, African elephants could become extinct in the next few decades. Most of the demand comes from Asia, specifically China’s rising middle class, many of whom are unaware that elephants are killed for their tusks. This increased demand keeps ivory prices high on the black market. Kenya is enacting strong measures to stem the demand for ivory such as burning confiscated ivory to ensure it does not sell.
Elephants are a keystone species and help balance all the other species in the ecosystem. Their digging creates water access for other animals. They open up forest land to create firebreaks and grasslands and elephants are necessary to the dispersal of seeds that help maintain tree diversity.
Poachers target herds of elephants with automatic weapons and poison-tipped arrows. Not only do they threaten the ecosystem, they spread crime and hinder tourism dollars from flowing into villages where elephants typically roam. Poachers need to be severely punished for murdering these gentle giants.
Currently, the law has been too lax on commercial poachers. Kenyan ports are Africa’s primary gateway for ivory smuggling into Asia. Some countries, such as the United States, have enacted a ban on the commercial trade in ivory. China has symbolically joined the fight by placing a ban on ivory imports. Individual organizations are trying to thwart the poachers by increasing security measures and securing elephant habitats.
There has been an international ban on African elephant ivory since 1989. By signing this petition, you will urge Secretary Wakhungu of the Kenyan Ministry of the Environment, Water & Natural Resources, to ensure that all African elephant poachers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Please help save the African elephant from extinction.
Dear Secretary Wakhungu,
African elephants are a keystone species and very important to your country. In addition to balancing other species in the ecosystem, they bring in tourist dollars that help sustain entire communities. Elephants care for their sick and mourn their dead. They are a complex and highly social animal which does not deserve to be slaughtered for their ivory tusks.
On average, one elephant is killed every fifteen minutes in Africa. The elephant population has decreased by approximately 64 percent in the past decade and slayings are outpacing births. At this rate, the African elephant could be extinct by 2025.
We, the undersigned, urge you to stop poachers from causing African elephant extinction. Ensure that poachers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, with high fine amounts and long prison terms. African elephants are a magnificent species that enthralls natives and tourists alike. Please help save the African elephant from extinction.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: David Steele