Two perspectives on elephant poaching in Africa
"The way we treat humanity is directly tied to the fate of these elephants." There are some complicated truths about how Kenya is failing to protect its elephants against the ivory trade.
What are the consequences of the ivory?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Africa lost nearly 100,000 elephants between 2006 and 2015 from poaching. Filmmaker Jon Kasbe spent almost 4 years in Kenya documenting poaching through the eyes of an ivory dealer, “X” and a wildlife ranger, Asan, for his film When lambs become lions. “X” and Asan maintain a good relationship, despite their jobs — rangers would be out of a job without poachers.
“At the core of this, like this is about elephants. But underneath, It's really a human issue. And I think the way we treat humanity is directly tied to the way that the fate of these elephants ends up. The bush law has kind of been "if a ranger sees someone near an elephant with weapons, they can shoot them on sight, and they can shoot to kill. And there's no repercussions for that. It's interesting because both sides have very similar motivations. Everyone is trying to feed their kids. They're all trying to survive. No one is really feeling like they're coming out on top in this situation. The two sides talk a lot. They're all friends. They all know each other. And also, the two sides are very interchangeable. Poachers become rangers and rangers will sometimes go back to poaching. They're very conscious of the social and political pressure from the international world. I think when the president of Kenya burned, you know, over 150 million dollars’ worth of ivory as a symbol of having no acceptance of poaching whatsoever, it sent a shockwave through the community,” Jon Kasbe tells Brut.
Poaching in decline
Elephant hunting has been illegal in Kenya since 1973. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Africa lost nearly 100,000 elephants between 2006 and 2015 from poaching. As stated in Nature Communications a recent study found the number of elephants dying from poaching is in decline.