On Oct. 4, Bay Area protesters joined 135 other cities around the world for the Second Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. It was an unusually hot day for the city of fog — hitting 90 degrees — but close to one thousand people marched from Saint Mary’s Square to Union Square in San Francisco, protesting the ivory and rhino horn trades. The rise of elephant and rhino poaching in Africa is pushing both mammals to the brink of extinction. The Bay Area group demanded government accountability –- a total ban on ivory trade in the U.S., a cease and desist of ivory carving factories in China and a ban on the illegal trade of rhino horn in Vietnam.
According to a recent report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants between 2010 and 2012. The entire population of African elephants is somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000, and some conservation scientists predict that at the current rate of poaching, the African elephant could be extinct within ten to fifteen years. Rhinos are in a similar dilemma.
Between the 1970s and 1990s, poachers decimated the African black rhino population. By 1993, the numbers had dropped from 70,000 to 3,000. Thanks to a robust conservation and anti-poaching effort, rhinos began to rebound and their population reached about 5,000. But the demand for rhino horn has skyrocketed in Vietnam, leading poachers back to rhino hunting.
In this podcast, a conservation biologist and protester in the Global March, Patrick Freeman, talks about the ivory and rhino horn trade and his motivations for marching; and Jill Burchell, a special agent with the United States of Fish and Wildlife Service, discusses the future of the ivory trade in America.