Yesterday the Guardian published an article by Simon Jenkins saying that farming elephants is the best way to save them. Simon Jenkins is a reputable journalist but this is not his area of expertise. Why did the Guardian publish this at such a sensitive time? Farming elephants, its such a ridiculous idea I wrote a quick (angry) response in the Guardian comments section critiquing the piece without going into how ludicrous the idea is itself is. You can read the original article here http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/13/save-elephants-farm-them-ivory-tusks?commentpage=2 and my response below, satisfyingly lots of other people also wrote to rubbish Mr Jenkin's ideas and timing:
Congratulations Mr. Jenkins for writing an article on an issue you clearly know nothing about. Your free market dogma holds no water here.
For anyone who has ever been in the presence of an elephant, or indeed knows anything about them at all, the idea of farming them is completely abhorrent.
The 'world', by which I think you mean conservation organisations and concerned parties, know full well supply cannot be completely banned. That is why organisations like WildAid and IFAW with the help of Prince William have been spending millions on advertising campaigns in China to change peoples perceptions. There, many people believe that Ivory just falls out of elephants like old teeth and it is not necessary to kill them. These campaigns are already changing attitudes. So perhaps in a way ivory is like cocaine in that the people who consume it are largely unaware of the disastrous effects its production has. Other than that your comparison between the drug trade and the ivory trade as similar is mistaken and misleading.
You mention that the value of Ivory belongs to Africans, here in Tanzania tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner in the country and employs tens of thousands of people. What will be the value of Ivory once it has all gone? How much of the value of Ivory do you think is going to Africans now, or under this new farming scheme that you have so cleverly defined?
There’s the 'world' again, African governments and businessmen are running the Ivory trade. If conservation organisations had nothing to do with it, poaching and the ivory trade would still be going on, probably at a much accelerated pace.
'Elephants are destroying their own ever shrinking habitats.' So why are their habitats shrinking? Again Mr. Jenkins you demonstrate your ignorance here.
Community conservation was a western idea in the first place. It has not gained ground because so far because largely it hasn't worked, it’s a nice idea on paper but corruption often wrecks projects and did so with CAMPFIRE which you mention. Look at the Rangelands Trust in Kenya or Honeyguide Foundation in Tz for example of success. Tanzania doesn't want to ban Trophy Hunting because many of its ministers and their friends are financially involved. The huge profits do not by any stretch go back into conservation.
Tanzania is losing at a conservative estimate 30 elephants per day, they could all be gone well inside 10 years. So Mr. Jenkins, before you lose all your wits entirely and ride off on the pro-trade brigade bandwagon, how about you go to Africa (I'l take you round!) to see elephants, talk to people who work with them, understand the dynamics of the trade and stop pushing spurious numbers and non-arguments in your articles. Or better yet don't write articles about subjects that you know nothing about at a time when your mistaken beliefs could be very damaging for the survival of a species as important as the elephant.