On March 26, 2021, we published a first article on elephants entitled: "The African elephant threatened with extinction" . It is always very difficult for us to write this kind of article; on animals in general of course, and on elephants in particular.
And here is that the recent declarations of the deputy chief of staff at the Ministry of Water and Forests of Côte d'Ivoire, Martial Kouamé Mé, push us to write a second. Living conditions are not getting better in this country for the one we have chosen as our emblem and mascot. Quite the contrary.
“Our wildlife is endangered, 208 species are endangered. The elephant population has declined over the past 30 years. We went from 1,100 individuals in 1990 to less than 500 today ” explains Mr. Martial Kouamé Mé. " The population of pachyderms was 100,000 individuals in the 1960s"
How did we get here ?
Environmental experts explain this dramatic situation by the fact that deforestation, due to the cultivation of cocoa, has reduced, in half a century, the forest cover to two million hectares (a decrease of nearly 90 %) and “endangered the last refuges of forest elephants” . Cocoa is an important commodity in the economy of this country. It represents 40% of the world market, making Côte d'Ivoire the world's leading producer. Its cultivation leads to rampant deforestation and at the same time, the destruction of the elephant's habitat.
But cocoa farming is not the only explanation for the disappearance of the elephant. As always, we find poaching to fuel the lucrative ivory trade (up to 7,000 euros per kilo mainly destined for the Asian market and the Middle East) as well as the increase in population and urbanization.
Area: 322,463 km²
Population: 25.72 million.
Currency: CFA Franc
Common borders: Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana
Unfortunately, the gradual disappearance of the elephant is not limited to the borders of Côte d'Ivoire alone. All elephant species are threatened and throughout their territories. Scott Schlossberg , data analyst for Elephants Without Borders, a Botswana-based nonprofit, said: “At this point there is no doubt that poaching and habitat loss has had devastating effects on people. elephants all over Africa. A few elephant populations are doing well, but the long-term trends for the continent as a whole are unfortunate. "
Recall that the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) in its official report of March 25, 2021, established that the two elephant species namely: savannah elephants entered the list of endangered species and Forest elephants are now listed as Critically Endangered species on the body's Red List, the global benchmark for extinction risk.
The two ways to protect elephants from danger are well known: to protect their habitat by practicing responsible and sustainable agriculture and to acquire repressive means to stop poaching once and for all by declaring the ivory trade. illegal everywhere on earth! Many countries still trade in ivory legally. Japan is one of those. It is even the country that has the largest market and Japanese sculptors have a preference for ivory from forest elephants.
Do we really need an ivory sculpture to live? How can we make the decent choice to acquire one knowing that it cost the life of this wonderful creature? We don't have the answer. We lack the box to understand but one thing is certain: it saddens us as much as it makes us angry.