It’s not every day that one is welcomed to a school sporting event by a large, horned mammal dressed in a soccer jersey, but on a warm, sunny day in Mozambique’s southern city of Xai-Xai, I met a rhino called Xibedjana. From the spectators’ stand at the XIII National Festival of School Sports Games, opened by Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, I noticed the rhino dancing through a parade of students.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.Most of us working at The World Bank Group remember Prince William’s visit last year to discuss corruption and the illegal wildlife trade. In a speech, he announced the establishment of a royal task force to work with the transportation industry to examine its part in illegal wildlife trade.
Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still poached in large numbers. Their ivory tusks are often carved into ornaments and jewelry. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, around 35,000 elephants are killed each year due to poaching, devastating the elephant populations of West and Central Africa. As recently as the 1930s and 1940s, there were between 3 to 5 million elephants in Africa, but today, there are only about 470,000.
WildAid launched a campaign in 2014 targeting the demand side of the ivory trade, with wildlife ambassadors admonishing that “When the buying stops, the killing can, too.”
Lang Lang, a world-famous Chinese concert pianist who has performed with leading orchestras in Europe, the United States and his native China, joined the campaign in May 2015 to help stop the killing of elephants for the ivory trade. Lang Lang and WildAid produced the following video featuring a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata “Appasionata” and the work of award-winning photographer Nick Brandt. Brandt is the founder of Big Life Foundation and a frequent contributor to WildAid campaigns.
Poaching African elephants for ivory provides a case in point. Elephant poaching has sharply increased since 2006. We may now be losing up to 50,000 elephants per year with only 450,000 elephants remaining in Africa. In short, we are running out of time and unless we can stop the killing, we will surely lose the battle. Decreasing demand for ivory is vital over the long term, but the scale of current elephant losses makes this strategy too slow to save elephants by itself. The ecological, economic and security consequences from the loss of this keystone species will be quite severe and potentially irreversible.
The World Bank’s vision is a world free of poverty. As this statement suggests, it is rare that we tackle a problem that is not grounded in poverty. Today, on World Wildlife Day, it is our imperative to draw attention to one such issue, an issue that does not stem from poverty but rather comes from greed and neglect. Today, we take on poaching.
The illegal capture and killing of wildlife takes place primarily in developing countries but it is not an issue born out of poverty. The criminological community has disproved the notion that poverty causes crime and found rather that many crimes are opportunistic. In the absence of poverty, crime lives on. This is true of wildlife crime as well, as discussed by World Wildlife Fund experts in a recent interview.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
Prince William of the United Kingdom gave a speech at the World Bank's International Corruption Hunters Alliance Conference on Monday in which he announced the establishment of a royal task force to work with the transportation industry to examine its part in illegal wildlife trade.
The task force is a part of the royal conservation organization, United for Wildlife, and "will call on companies to implement a 'zero tolerance' policy towards the trade," the Prince said. He went on to say, "Criminals are able to exploit weak and corrupt standards, so we must raise those standards, collectively."
The prince also linked wildlife poaching to terrorism and organized crime: “Criminal gangs turn vast profits from the illegal killing or capture of wildlife; armed groups and terrorists swap poached ivory for guns; and middle-men oil the wheels of the trade in return for reward.”
The speech was delivered one day before International Anti-Corruption Day, which is observed annually on December 9. This year’s theme, “Break the Corruption Chain”, urges people to avoid taking part in everyday acts of corruption that undermine education, health, justice, democracy and sustainable development in communities around the world.
In accordance with the Prince’s speech, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime previously published a video calling for an end to illegal trade in wildlife products.