Reports from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cities) show that 80% of ivory seizures occur in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, my country. The amount of illegal ivory in Kenya, mostly en route to China, has come as a surprise to many Kenyans, who were for decades fed the narrative of a wildlife-friendly country with zero tolerance for offenders.
For conservationists and those on the frontline against poaching official figures are difficult to confirm because of the lack of transparency in the collection of the data. Furthermore, although ivory seizures are occasionally reported, the disposal of the stockpile, unlike the public destruction of illicit drugs and weapons, takes place away from public scrutiny.
The effect of the illegal ivory trade is being felt across Africa. In just one park in Tanzania, Selous, 67% of the elephants (pdf) were slaughtered over a four-year period. Ongoing surveys and reports are revealing the near annihilation of elephants in Democratic Republic of the Congo and the South Sudan.
In Uganda, a recent audit revealed that 1.3 tons of ivory was missing from the national stockpile; while a report by (pdf) the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in Tanzania revealed the China connection in ivory trafficking. It was reported, but unconfirmed, that during a recent visit by Chinese dignitaries’ local ivory prices went up by 100%. The Chinese government denies this.
Meanwhile, horrific news has just emerged that in Zimbabwe, 34 baby elephants have been kidnapped from their families to be sold into a life of slavery in zoos and circuses in China and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the babies have already died from the emotional trauma while in their holding cells.
Incredibly, African leaders have been silent on all this despite the many opportunities at regional meetings to address the alarming rise in the use of militias to slaughter elephants. The loss to Africa and the cost to our development runs in the billions of dollars. How could such an important issue not be a major agenda item at African regional political meetings?
Apart from Prince William’s and Hillary Clinton’s leadership on this issue, western governments have yet to deliver on promises to fund elephant conservation in Africa. These leaders could do much more by marshalling political support, supporting good indigenous organisations and forging mentoring partnerships. It is in everyone’s interest to prevent these species from going extinct. They are our global heritage.
This does not let African leaders off the hook. They recently addressed the Ebola crisis by recognising the threat and seeking help, and the assistance began to flow immediately. Why can’t they do the same with this crisis?
Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta is one of the most vocal African leaders on the subject. As patron of the Hand Off Our Elephants campaign she has broken traditional roles to become the first First Lady in Africa to champion an animal cause. But other leaders are silent. Why?
What is seen by many as a genocide of elephants is not getting attention because it is viewed as “just a conservation concern”. But this is much more than that, this is a political and economic issue that is driven by the unbalanced relationship with Africa’s fastest-growing development partner, China.
I believe it will take a complete transformation of hearts and minds for African leaders to wake up and take charge to end the slaughter of our magnificent elephants. Our leaders must employ their collective bargaining power to say no to the demand for ivory in China. It will take enormous courage and pride in our natural resources, something that African leaders do have in abundance. This paradigm shift must be driven by demand from African people themselves. Until this happens, the only winners in this game will continue to be the ivory dealers.
Between 1982, the year of my immigration from Germany to South Africa, and now (2014) there were countless changes to my personal “South African Dream”.
Sure, the African countryside remained the same, the one that is the content of a global longing and love of Africa. However, the people changed and the things they changed about Africa were not very beneficial.
Tourist agencies are selling South Africa in colorful brochures of all the options visitors can enjoy: the magnificent, spectacular nature, the Two Oceans, fine dining and wining, The Garden Route, Table Mountain, the Big Five (fenced in parks and on the verge to be only big 4 or 3…), Game Hunting, super exclusive accommodation, health spas, the works.
I don’t say they are lying! It’s all here indeed. But to remain in business they leave out too many other realities that might befall the happy traveler Even the slight possibility of an Ebola infection had significant amounts of holiday bookings being cancelled.
South Africa is, at least above the sweet seeming Cape region, a land of roughness and savageries.
A never ending war started +- 500 years ago. Until then the land was inhabited for tens of thousands of years by only a small number of the indigenous San People (later Khoi San, later called bushmen). Overpopulation and drought in North Africa caused the South wards inland migration of mainly the Nguni, Zulu and Bantu tribes.
The fighting and blood shedding began then. Inter-tribal fighting for land and cattle were the main reasons and very probably a sort of tribal racism.
The arrival of the European settlers, which happened more or less at the same time in history, did not improve the situation at all. Between them they started diminishing the numbers of bushmen, the wild and domestic animals and –last not least- each other. It was war out and out. A war fuelled by greed, greed, greed for land, slaves, cattle, superiority and gold.
The foundation of Apartheid was, as far as I am concerned, a war strategy, to win and overcome, similar to Shaka Zulu’s innovative warrior formations. Apartheid was not a god idea, but similar misguided tactics happened all around the world. However, South Africa was the global favorite culprit and boogey man of crimes against humanity and our white people are shouldered with an in-erasable stigma and for probably generations to come.
The war is going on. From an actual battlefield it has shifted to inter communal disagreements. Increasing poverty, unemployment and resulting violent crime fuel the aggression and anger and the active hate of people from neighboring countries, who come looking for jobs.
So how on earth did it happen that we are all still here? I think that the good people with positive thoughts and intentions are in a majority to the baddies. It's a soul thing. I hope it is, because that would give me real hope for the future of our children: black, brown, beige, white, yellow. (Any color left out is not meant as discrimination....)
Our government is divided not only on the basis of politics, nepotism greed and corruption, but remarkably also by tribal ship. (It is so divided, that riot police has to be deployed into Parliament!!!) Massive civil street fights are caused by tribal differences. The tribal consciousness goes so deep, that many refuse to speak the other’s language. (In this context one might dare to mention the fact, that many white Afrikaaners and vice versa white Englishmen (sometimes presumably) don’t speak each other’s languages. The latter fact would be another article on the Boer- Wars, which I will write when I feel very brave one day!!
What I wanted to say in this article AS WELL is, that since I arrived here, the country’s population’s lot did not improve under the new government. Statistics show the contrary.
As to the subject of ‘racism’, which I carefully avoided up to here, but which is very much alive and kicking like everywhere else in the world 2014, I am sharing a public facebook post, which caught my attention this morning:
Daniel Lötter (facebook)
Yesterday at 9:25am
(Daniel) Mommy, they’re calling me a racist again!
White South Africans are so used to it. Anything you say or do which is not immediately approved of, wham-bam-boom – ta-daa! Racist!
As if racism is an exclusively white thing. Wait, we’ll get back to this one.
White people have now developed two slightly amusing habits as a result of their very existence being automatically linked to racism. In the first place you get the advance-apology: “I am not a racist, but….” and what follows on that introduction.
The other is the very meaningful gesture which all white South Africans understand by now. The tapping of the right forefinger on the left forearm or the right cheek to indicate skin-colour. For example: “Do you know who was appointed as the new manager?” “No, but I heard….” (combined with the tapping to indicate that it was an affirmative action, BEE appointment of a black candidate not necessarily based on skill, qualification and merit. Go ask Eskom, SAA, Post office etc if you don’t understand exactly what I mean.)
It is quite tedious, to be honest. In particular the misaprehension amongst South Africans of colour that being called a racist is a huge insult to a white person. It is not. No longer anyway. It has become a joke now, in particular when even innocent student fun is used as examples of racism. That is clutching at straws to prove a point for which no evidence exists. It is really somewhat pathetic, come to think of it.
Way back in 1994 (and some of us have moved on, you know) the majority of South Africans of all colours were somewhat excited of what awaited them. They were fed with all the good news, all the positives, all the prospects. They started feeling like someone who had chocolate cake for breakfast, cupcakes for lunch and fudge for supper.
The transition of 1994 was a difficult one for white South Africans. A way of life, an entire system of beliefs of 300 years had to make a complete u-turn and that meant emotional and psychological sacrifices. To hear, on top of that, the constant refrain of: Racist! Racist! and the tiresome and non-sensible kickback to Apartheid! Apartheid! year in and year out had two effects in the long run.
1)Some people, after being called “racist” over and over again for two decades and more, started to believe that. They crawled into their little corners and apologised and apologised and did everything possible to prove the accusation wrong. They are people like Conrad Koch, the boy who plays with a doll’s behind, and a handful of other libtards.
2)The majority, however, got to the point of saying: “No matter what I do, no matter how often I try to prove you guys wrong – you believe I am a racist. Nothing I can do about that.” Shrugged their shoulders and carried on.
You see, the black South African, in thoughtlessly repeating a word of which he never contemplated the true meaning, automatically links this word to an appearance. Because a person is white, he is a racist. If he could now become black, for argument’s sake, he won’t be a racist anymore even if he is who he is or does what he does. Even the very liberal white person is racist. And yet the young black male believes that showing off his white girlfriend would show that he is no racist. I have heard so often lately: “I date a white girl” that pure mathematics regarding the demographics of the country would show that, if every claim is to be believed, every white woman between the age of 16 and 60 in South Africa must be engaged to three black men! Back in 1994 many white people would say: “I’m no racist, I have black friends!”. Those days are long gone, so the guys still using their white girl friend as evidence of them not being racist – you are again 2 decades behind in development. You just can’t get it right, can you?
This is much like the scenario where you find the most homophobic guys tumbling out of their closets at one stage or the other. Demonise and project your own struggle to hide your own feelings of guilt – easy to understand: Black people scream “Racist” at every white person they see in the hope that everybody will turn on that person and not see the real racist standing right there! You turn into what you hate the most. You are a racist yourself. And after 20 years, the mask is now slipping.
20 years ago when I was 20 years younger, it would have mattered. Now I exist only as a racist in your mind. Nothing I can do about it. And because you have got to live with the ghosts in your mind, not I, I can do nothing more than pity you. It is your choice to live with that which you have created in your own imagination. It matters absolutely nothing to me.
So you regard me as a racist? I doubt whether I really take note of it, and frankly, it doesn’t even bother me any more. Don’t waste your time in thinking that you might hurt me with the accusation. I have liberated myself from feeling guilty about what happens in your mind. I have taken that weapon from your hands and I have left you behind as a screaming, shouting, bitter noisemaker…That is my personal liberation and there is NOTHING you can do about it.
Should the guys and girls in the yellow boxes not be at least a little bit concerned?
WhenI was still living and growing up in Germany, South Africa was rather far from our focus and I remember clearly that nobody really knew anything much about Africa. That changed for me, when my sister got married to a South African in the year 65. Through today's corespondence with "old" friends I understand, that there is still a vast emptiness in respect of "What do I know about South Africa?" or much rather "What do I want to know about South Africa?"
This blog is for those who are curious about what the hell, aside from socker, is happening in mynew home country.
Many friendly greetings and I can confirm that one can survive on the "dark continent", we have Christmas PLUS many other strange culture customs. However, it would easier for the heart to survive, if you should be deaf, dumb and preferably blind.
Tot siens, tsamaya hantle, good bye, hamba gashle, auf wiedersehen, aurevoir, aw yeah!