Potential Hot Spots: March 5, 2004


Wrangling over the ivory ban is big time politics in Africa. Battling poachers is not only a lot like battling guerrillas, often poachers are or have been guerrillas. Kenya has seconded army infantry to help police and park rangers run counter-poacher patrols. The Kenyan government is still against lifting the ban, despite increasing pressure by some African countries to allow ivory cropping. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana all have large elephant herds. The elephant herds have been successfully managed and in some cases there is simply no place to move the elephants. Several tribal groups want to cull the herds (they destroy property and farmland when they wander off protected preserves) and sell the ivory to help support wild animal protection and restoration projects. Kenyan herds, however, are still depleted. In the 1980s poachers almost eliminated several Kenyan elephant herds. In the mid-1970s Kenya had around 200,000 elephants. That number dropped to around 15,000 in the mid-1980s. The ivory ban went into effect in 1989. Kenya now says it has around 28,000 elephants. Kenya argues that ending the ban would give poachers (who have large illegal ivory stocks) the chance to sell their ivory.


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