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The future of elephants? They would need their own Africa

Stopping elephant killing poachers is urgent and necessary if we want to prevent the extermination of elephants. But even if we get rid of the phenomenon of poaching and trade in their tusks, elephants will continue to fight people with soil, water and food. So survival.

Practical protection of elephants in Africa compares James Randerson in his article, published in the Guardian Journal , to the second, opposite side of the razor blade. The one we do not see. It is no less sharp than the blade we already know. "Yes, the majestic elephants are threatening cruel poaching and hunting for ivory, money-fed obsession with traffickers, various vendors of ornamental objects, or supporters of traditional Chinese medicine. But in the background behind this well-known story there is another ongoing struggle for existence: " The struggle for water, soil, food. Even in this fight, elephants are against people, but the situation is largely different. Terms such as "guilty, solutions, the future" are losing in highly uncertain contours.

In his pessimistic outlook on survival of elephants, Randerson is working with information from a number of experts. And they agree that the problem of their rescue goes far beyond the issue of illegal hunting "Ivory trade has a very significant impact on the elephant population, of course," says Julian Blanc of the UN Environment Program in Nairobi. "But the destruction of habitats caused by the growing human population brings The poaching has attracted considerable media attention to the subject, but it is just one piece of the puzzle, and if the magic of the elephants is done in a magical way tomorrow, the animals will still be in trouble, the loss of natural habitats, but not just the elephants, but A number of animals, from giraffes to gekons. "

Poaching? Just another piece of puzzle

To prevent the loss of the original habitat, the living space where elephants could find food, it is more difficult to know. Why? It is a "much more complicated story" that has the problem of grabbing a variety of celebrities and popular conservationist non-fiction. Blanc points out that this true protection of the elephants has a much deeper subtext, which not everyone wants to understand. "It's an area of ​​different gray tones, unlike the black-and-white security of the ivory business." It is easy for animal lovers to guard with the slogan "Not in my name!" And distancing themselves from ivory traffickers. What we eat or buy, we also influence governments in the countries where the elephants live, and they again affect their inhabitants, the farmer.

"The relationship is not immediate and direct, but it exists,"
says Blanc. "However, the cultivation of ornamental flowers or fruit in Africa has far more impact on the original environment than the bullets of poachers." The moral argument is that supporting African farmers will help them get out of poverty and improve the quality of their lives. "That's why our governments and NGOs also support this business," said Blanc, "but it is not a win-win situation from a purely protectionist point of view, and nature is losing out, and people are just gaining."

Holly Dublin, an IUCN specialist on elephant protection, speaks more explicitly about the subject. "In simplicity: the story of the elephants touches many aspects of our lives. It is so complex. And we're involved in it. All. Not just the bad ones who buy ivory. "

Where the elephants end and people start

When we look at the black-white, simplified world of evil poachers and worthy elephants, we may find the gray-shaded and undefined world of African farmers. "And the elephants are definitely not the decent and majestic gentlemen we want them to have," says Blanc. "It destroys crops, kills people. Often without provocation. In Africa, they are rightly among the greatest animal killers. And one elephant can infuriate and destroy a field in which a few families can survive the whole year. Loss of crops makes them hungry beggars. "It is obvious that if such a fate catches you, you will hardly ever be inclined to protect the elephants.

Currently, the situation is most critical in Asia. Each year, elephants are killed around hundreds of people (and between 40-50 elephants). And Africa is now approaching the same escalation scenario at a rapid pace. As the number of people grows, there is a growing number of farms and farms, and at the same time the area for the life of the elephants becomes bounded. The majestic brute-breeders are in no way reduced to the possibility of going to these fields for available feed. But there is a steadily increasing number of conflicts that do not have a clear solution. People in Africa have an understandable and natural claim not to die of hunger and to defend themselves against elephants.

Conservation of nature and local government has so far been quite clear to the elephants. James Randerson describes a situation where a group of elephants from one African national park on a "night robbery" is preventively accompanied by a group of rangers. If the herd strayed up to the land of the farmers, the guardians, with the help of noise and warning devices, were taken off. The presence of armed rangers simultaneously dampens the situation where elephants want the farmers to do their own. At the same time, he points out that the territory or rather the radius of an elephant herd may overlap an area of ​​3000 square kilometers, and it is not in the human power to provide such an escort for the 415,000 living African elephants.

Water (not only) for elephants

"And roughly at that moment when you put one group of crops destroying elephants out of the affected area, there will be another," says Holly Dublin. "It's like prescribing aspirin to cancer. And the more people are growing in Africa, the more competition is going on in the area. " For the sake of clarity: 477 million people lived in the African continent in 1980, or 1.2 billion in 2050. And according to Elephants in the Dust , 29% of African elephants live in areas "heavily influenced by the development of human society" . In 2050, it will already be 63% of the existing area. "But if you solve the survival of elephants and people and ask someone what a plan is, silence is heard," says Dublin. She worries that the protection of the elephants is taking place without any wider concept and without looking into the future.

"If elephants and people are in close contact, someone did not think about planning. The existing concepts of protected areas and the concept of human settlement development are running concurrently but not together. No one knows where the human population in Africa is growing fastest or where people and elephants will be shifting as a result of climate change. There is no balancing of agricultural development plans and schemes for building new infrastructure. Nobody basically knows where the peaceful coexistence of elephants and humans would be possible. Or where are the areas at greatest risk of conflict. Only the consequences are solved. "

There may be poaching in Africa once, but the elephants will not do much better. "See where the elephants live," concludes the Dublin topic. "Where there is water. And there is also farming. And people. It will be hard enough to keep all this. "

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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