Help Canada save elephants and rhinos from poaching and trophy hunting!
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P. Minister of Environment and Climate Change House of Commons
via email: Steven.Guilbeault@parl.gc.ca
Hon. Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Arif Virani, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada email@example.com
September 7th, 2023
Dear Minister Guilbeault,
We are writing to better understand Canada’s views on how best to tackle wildlife trafficking at the international level, and to encourage the Government to further consider the merits of an additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).
The size and scale of wildlife trafficking is a truly global challenge and one that demands urgent action. The value of illegal trade has been estimated at between $7 and $23 billion per year. A report by FINTRAC acknowledges that “illegal wildlife trade not only affects Canada, but poses a serious threat internationally”. Canada has signaled that this is a priority issue to address, both at home and abroad, and we were pleased to see the inclusion of the subject in the December 2021 Mandate Letter for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) committing Canada to “work with partners to curb illegal wildlife trade”…….
Celebrate #WorldElephantDay today by donating to your favourite elephant conservation organization!
“Elephants are not human, of course. They are something much more ancient and primordial, living on a different plane of existence. Long before we arrived on the scene, they worked out a way of being in the world that has not fundamentally changed and is sustainable, and not predatory or destructive.” Alex Shoumatoff
One might question why humanity continues to be a formidable and increasingly detrimental threat to nature, while nature continues to be the only hope left for our survival. The phrase, ‘cut off your nose to spite your face,’ comes to mind.
Undeniably, humankind has never fathomed the nuances required to sustain a viable and healthy world, but rather has created an ecological and environmental conundrum that will be the demise of our species and many other species, unless immediate action is taken to reverse this deleterious trend. Elephants and many other wildlife species are becoming extinct from the increased threat of habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade mainly due to humanity’s ignorance.
In March 2022, the Canadian government mandated to end the elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trade and work with partners to curb the illegal wildlife trade in Canada. We are still waiting for action to be taken on this initiative. The following information reaffirms the necessity to get this mandate done as soon as possible:
In a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Finance and Development department, the carbon value of a single forest elephant is worth $1.75 million dollars. Elephants help mitigate climate change by maintaining forest and savannah ecosystems for other species and are integrally tied to rich biodiversity.
In a study done by Yale school of the Environment on climate change, Professor Oswald J. Schmitz states, “Wildlife species, throughout their interaction with the environment, are the missing link between biodiversity and climate. This interaction means rewilding can be among the best nature-based climate solutions available to humankind.”
The data in this study showed that protecting or restoring wildlife populations could collectively facilitate the additional capture of 6.41 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is 95% of the amount needed every year to meet the Paris Agreement target of removing enough carbon from the atmosphere to keep global warming below the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold. The health of our planet is ultimately dependent on healthy biodiversity and ecosystems globally.
To be certain, the elephant ivory trade dates back to the 14th century. During the colonization of Africa, approximately 800 to 1,000 tonnes of ivory was sent to Europe every year to be used for making piano keys, billiard balls, and other usages. By the 1970’s Japan consumed approximately 40% of the global trade and another 40% was consumed by Europe and North America.
Fast forward to today and China has become the largest consumer of ivory products in the world where the vast majority of smuggled ivory—experts say as much as 70 percent—ends up. With increased economic growth, a wealthy Chinese middle class has fuelled the demand for luxury ivory products and although seizures of illegally obtained ivory take place, much of the smuggled ivory still gets through. The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) reports that nearly all the current demand for elephant ivory comes from the Chinese market.
In March of 2021, the African forest elephant, Loxodonta cyclotis, was listed as critically endangered and the African savanna elephant, Loxodonta africana, as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The causes are identified as poaching for ivory in the short term and habitat loss in the longer term. The number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years. The Red List continues to classify the Asian elephant as endangered with as little as 52,000 left in the wild.
According to an IUCN Report, approximately 111,000 elephants were lost between 2006-2015 leaving an estimated 415,500. In the last forty years, elephant habitat has decreased by nearly two thirds largely due to human activities.
A paper led by the Mara Elephant Project’s Director of Research and Conservation Dr Jake Wall, discovered that human activity largely shapes the behaviour and distribution of modern elephants. 62% of Africa has suitable habitat for elephants, but the animals use just 17% of that habitat and are absent – for now – in the remaining 83%.
Along with poaching, the demand for rhino horn is highly sought after for Traditional Chinese Medicine use. The trade of TCM using body parts of IUCN red-listed animals must be regulated. Additionally, new research by Vincent Nijman, Professor in Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University states, “With three out of four newly emerging infectious human diseases originating in animals, there is an urgent need to monitor the legal trade in wildlife… given that in many instances the legal wildlife trade is several orders of magnitude larger than the illegal trade, it is ineffective and possibly dangerous to focus on the illegal wildlife trade only.” Pandemics will continue as long as the legal trade in wildlife goes unabated.
Consequently, wildlife trafficking has quickly become a multi-billion-dollar transnational criminal activity that is not only a conservation issue but also a security threat. It is ranked as the fourth most profitable transnational crime, only behind the drug trade, arms trade and human trafficking. During the pandemic, there was a significant shift toward online sales of ivory, particularly on eBay and social media.
In May of 2022 the UN moved closer towards tackling the illegal wildlife trade. The UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) adopted an historic resolution. Angola, Kenya, and Peru submitted the draft resolution in April. It was titled ‘Strengthening the international legal framework for international cooperation to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in wildlife.’ It called on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to consider the benefits of adopting an additional protocol in the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).
This additional protocol would be specifically about preventing and combating the illegal wildlife trade. Current protocols in UNTOC cover the trafficking and smuggling of people, and the manufacturing and trafficking of arms. This is a step in the right direction!
Furthermore, in February of 2023, a new public-private partnership, targeting the global black market in wild animals and their body parts, was initiated by Scotiabank and FINTRAC, which encourages information sharing between financial institutions, conservation groups, and financial intelligence units in Canada, South Africa, Australia, the U.K and elsewhere. This is a huge initiative and targets the middlemen responsible for illicit wildlife trafficking.
Money laundering plays a significant role in the illegal wildlife trade with criminals looking for an easy way to move whatever commodity they can to make a profit. Sam Cooper, Canadian investigative journalist and founder of The Bureau says that international law enforcement have identified networks of hunting junket operators in Canada, Latin America, Africa and Australia, intertwined with fentanyl traffickers and Chinese state actors. Cooper said illegal wildlife hunting and trafficking facilitate laundering of drug cash and movement of narcotics for gang bosses, but junket operators also use illegal big game hunting as a social networking tool, gathering gangsters, corrupt officials, and state actors. “Vice and profit go hand-in-hand in these international crime and corruption networks,” Cooper said.
While strong law enforcement initiatives are imperative to curb the illegal wildlife trade, the fact remains that habitat loss, poaching, human-elephant conflict, trophy hunting, and the legal ivory trade are still enormous threats contributing to elephant population declines and their survival.
We continue to encourage the Canadian government to follow through with its mandate as a matter of urgency and we ask that you do the same.
Please Take Action to make sure the government fulfills its obligation and stops stalling on its commitments.
“In the end … success or failure will come down to an ethical decision, one on which those now living will be judged for generations to come.” Edward O. Wilson
President / Co-Founder
June 5th is #WorldEnvironmentDay
The theme of World Environment Day 2023 is to focus on solutions to plastic pollution. #BeatPlasticPollution
Plastic is being consumed in large amounts by elephants primarily in Asia and India largely due to increased population growth which has caused habitat loss, fragmentation, and forced elephants to search for food in unhealthy places.
As this video will explain, in Sri Lanka alone, elephants have been found to consume enormous amounts of plastic from toxic waste sites causing them a horrific painful death. In India, elephants consume plastics from nearby village dumps and transport them deep into forests.
85 percent of waste found in elephant dung in the town of Kotdwar, India, was plastic. This has a cascading effect on other animals feeding off their dung and is a leading concern of what the effects of plastic are on land ecosystems.
Because elephants are prolific seed dispersers and a keystone species responsible for the ecosystems in which they live, plastic is a grave danger to all species involved in the chain reaction.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has stated that the amount of plastic that is produced annually is set to triple by 2060, driven by rising populations and income.
In their report they propose concrete policies that can be implemented along the lifecycle of plastics that could significantly curb, or even eliminate, plastic leakage into the environment. What can we all do to expedite some of the initiatives and policies outlined in this report?
Set a personal #Goal to help end #PlasticConsumption and #BeatPlasticPollution
Sustainability – Environmental and social sustainability are our core values and is reflected in the work we do and how we do it.
Professionalism – Being transparent, accountable, and responsible for all we do within our organization and how we project that through the work we do.
Community – Our community of social media followers, partners, and volunteers are key components in achieving our goals of spreading awareness and holding fundraising events. Education is key to change and must be done in a compassionate, environmentally friendly, manner.
Enjoy World Environment Day by setting a goal to make the world a better place for all of us, especially elephants!
The Canadian Federal Government Fails to Hold Canadian Companies Accountable Overseas
The Okavango River Basin covers 125,000 square miles across Angola, Botswana and Namibia and is home to the largest remaining population of African elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffe, African buffalo, and hundreds of species of birds. Its vast water system transforms what could be one of the driest areas in the world to a biodiversity hotspot hosting a vibrant landscape. In 2014 it became a Unesco World Heritage site.
While humanity faces the dual calamities of biodiversity loss and the impacts of a rapidly heating climate, the urgent need to safeguard biodiversity rich places such as the Okavango River Basin becomes more urgent.
The WWF Living Planet report shows that wildlife populations have declined by 69% over the last 50 years.
Indeed, while elephants roamed the forests and savannas of Africa in the millions in the past, the 20th century has seen an accelerated assault on their lives with populations declining from 10 million in the early 1900s to approximately 450,000 today. Climate change, human wildlife conflict, and poaching continue to devastate elephant populations.
As Canadians, why is it important that we act expeditiously to help protect the Okavango Delta from intrusions that would devastate this region?
We know that the world we inhabit is deeply interconnected. We are one planet.
The destruction of the Amazon forest impacts us all. The destruction of the Okavango Delta impacts us all.
The systems humans built have led us to this state of multiple crises. Now we must rebuild a path forward reprioritizing the needs of the planet as an interconnected place where the importance of flora and fauna are equally considered in economic development.
Recon Africa is a small Canadian oil and gas-based exploration company that has begun drilling for oil and gas in this pristine basin. The news of its discovery increased share prices making a bundle for investors. The track record of Recon Africa has been suspect from the start, including stock manipulation, which has recently been extensively documented in Rolling Stone, and the Globe and Mail.
WHY SHOULD CANADIANS CARE?
The Canadian government cares about climate change. We know this because Canada signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 pledging to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The Canadian government cares about biodiversity loss and is signatory to the first-ever biodiversity agreement. Among Canada’s main goals are protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030, respecting the rights and roles of Indigenous peoples, and addressing the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as pollution and overexploitation of nature. These elements were agreed upon in the final Framework.
With these large public commitments, it’s clear that Canada intends to play a leadership role on the global stage. In the recent federal budget the government committed millions to help industry and Canada transition to clean energy in response to the US Inflation Reduction Act.
CLOSE THE GAP – Canada does not have meaningful and enforceable oversight of how its corporations behave overseas, helping to ensure that collectively we will continue to fail our climate and biodiversity loss goals.
EMPOWER THE CANADIAN OMBUDSPERSON FOR RESPONSIBLE ENTERPRISE
Canada is home to many companies in the extractive sector, including over half of the worlds publicly listed mining companies. In 2018 CORE was launched to hold accountable laggard companies operating overseas. Although initially lauded as a big step toward corporate accountability that would hold mining and oil and gas companies accountable in extra territorial jurisdiction, in the last four years not a single case has been completed, meaning there have been zero investigations or reviews finished in CORE’s 4 years of operations.
Human rights and environmental groups have taken their complaints and concerns regarding Recon Africa’s corporate behavior to the RCMP and to unresponsive government departments.
Acting swiftly to close this gap would prevent 120 billion barrels of oil or 51.6 Gigatonnes of CO2, the equivalent of one sixth of the world’s remaining carbon budget, into the atmosphere.
It won’t matter what we do here if rogue resource sector businesses continue a trajectory of corporate malfeasance in other countries.
OPPORTUNITY AND NEXT STEPS
The Canadian government needs to give CORE the legal framework, power and resources to meaningfully hold companies accountable for environmental and human rights abuses in other countries.
Canada has the opportunity to lead the clean energy transition in Africa. Close the gaps and get serious about talking about climate change and protecting biodiversity. Everyone benefits from that.
VP – Elephanatics
TAKE ACTION – The Future of Elephants and Rhinos Depends On Us!
The Canadian government has committed to do its part in helping save these iconic and majestic animals by ending the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade in Canada. But time is running out and extinction is not an option.
Please urge the Government of Canada to fulfill its mandate to end the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade in Canada:
1.) sign letter https://bit.ly/38pmlSn
2.) sign petition change.org/IvoryFreeCanada
For an #IvoryFreeCanada
“May Man and Beast
succeed to coalesce harmoniously,
in the forests, the seas, and land,
with ner’er a compromise from Nature.”
There is a tragic urgency in the world today for the necessity to compromise. Compromises for wildlife. Compromises for nature. But, above all else, the ability to compromise humanity’s own platitudes for the sake of Mother Earth. David Attenborough said it best, “Nature once determined how we survive, now we determine how nature survives.” Only by compromising will we find an equilibrium that will provide a solution to prevent critical mass extinction of wildlife and our own species.
Rewilding is a concept that has gained larger recognition worldwide because of the irreparable damage caused by humans to wild spaces that were once occupied by species responsible for healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. Conservationists understand the frailty of our existence and the connection between nature and mankind as synergistic. Therefore, if the basis of rewilding be to govern all natural processes, then it must be said that the basis of rewilding humanity be at its core.
What is rewilding and why do we need it?
Rewilding is a progressive form of conservation that restores and rebalances ecological areas that have suffered from overuse and abuse from humans, allowing nature to repair itself through natural processes with as little human interference as possible. It helps ecosystems rebuild diversity, structure and resilience. It is imperative for all life on Earth to have healthy, regulated ecosystems to counter the extinction crisis, preserve biodiversity, and help mitigate human-made climate change.
Rewilding consists of 3 major success categories: Cores, Corridors and Carnivores.
Cores are wild spaces linked up by corridors that enable carnivores, or other keystone species, to be reintroduced to areas where they once roamed, and now have the opportunity to flourish and regenerate ecosystems that were once part of the landscape. Corridors are natural or man-made strips of land connecting cores and serving as an avenue for wild animals to move across to reach food, water and cover. Increasing habitat fragmentation has put these essential movements at risk.
Large predators play a key role in regulating ecosystems. By connecting core areas through natural corridors, big predators can reach wild land networks.
Generally speaking, populations of wild animals are naturally regulated. There are two forms of food regulation. One form of is bottom-up control – meaning the flow of energy and nutrients from the soil through to the plants to the herbivores and on up to the predators. Another form is top-down control where predators control herbivores or other smaller predators (predation), which indirectly affects plants and even soils, referred to as a trophic cascade. Elephants are plant predators – a top-down control (food regulation) of plants and trees in the ecosystems in which they live. In the savannah elephants affect tree populations by eating small seedlings thus preventing trees from returning keeping the vegetation open. One of the most frequent causes of ecosystem collapse is the loss of top predators. Human hunting, urban development and agriculture has prevented regulation of herbivores by top predators by displacing or killing them causing a chain reaction in the food chain.
In any ecosystem, the loss of a keystone species results in a loss of biodiversity at other levels in the food chain. Elephants have decreased by nearly two-thirds largely because of human activities in the past 40 years and because elephants are a keystone species, this has greatly affected the ecosystems in which they live and all the other animals that depend upon them for survival. A principal driver for the decline and extinction of a species is the loss of their habitat. An important pillar of rewilding is the reintroduction of keystone species to areas that have been degraded in order to rebuild stability and diversity.
Rewilding is a complex and intricate process of re-establishing ecosystems to the original form had human disturbances not occurred. Long-term monitoring is essential in tracking rewilding programs. By having a long-term goal it allows scientists to track a systems progress and intervene if it deviates because of external threats such as poaching.
So, how does all this pertain to humanity and its role in the extinction crisis and what constructive tactics could we practice in order to assist the rewilding concept?
It is a disheartening fact to know that 96% of the mass of mammals on the planet today are humans and the livestock we have domesticated. Only 4 % is everything else, meaning wildlife is at the bottom of the barrel. 70% of all birds are domesticated poultry, mainly chickens. The speed at which species are disappearing is at least 100 times higher than the natural rate of extinction. At the current rate it will take millions of years for diversity to be restored to pre-industrial levels. How do we halt this tsunami?
If we were to say that humanity’s success is governed, largely, by 3 major success categories to include competence, commitment, and collaboration, we could discern and conflate the principles of rewidling with our own principles of humanity. We could also broaden the categories to include; compassion, conscience, culture, community, and co-existence.
From the beginning of time, mankind has been ingenious and competent enough to protect itself from extinction. But, we have reached a global population growth of 8+ billion people that are pillaging the earth’s resources at mammoth speed. A commitment to evaluate our consumption practices and place nature at the top of our list of collaborators is imperative for all survival on earth and a true test for humanity. Are we competent enough to succeed? Our sub categories of success, to include compassion and conscience, will need to place an emphasis on rewilding humanity as its primary goal in order for rewilding nature to be successful. Cultural norms will need to be reevaluated, and educational programs in communities and schools will need to be organized to teach the importance of co-existence with nature as our primary connection and means to survival. It is encouraging to know that some conservation organizations are focusing on the importance of rewilding and making it their primary objective.
We are bound, intrinsically, to nature. From the elephant that tramples copious amounts of seeds in the forest that, in turn, nourishes life in ecosystems, to the stars we gaze at with wonderment, in the night sky, that are part of our DNA. Compromises are urgent proponents to change that humans are irrevocably responsible for in order for rewilding to succeed and humanity to continue to exist.
The truth is, nature does not compromise. We must.
Below are some suggestions on how to ‘Rewild Humanity’ and top reasons why we should:
Top reasons why we need to rewild:
President / Elephanatics
*All rewilding statistics listed above accredited to “A Place Like No Other”
author, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, with Rene Beyers, director, Elephanatics