On Saturday, 4th October 2014, the world will unite in a global march opposing the sickening slaughter of rhinos and elephants on the African continent by poachers feeding the illegal trade of horn and ivory. The organisers of the grass roots event to be held at Boetelo Sun Valley Resort – The Old Pump House in Notwane say that, “only a truly global response will stop our globally iconic species being sold into extinction,” explaining, “World Animal Day this year must focus on action - individuals, peoples, governments - all of us must act to end the vile trade in endangered species.”
The local march is being coordinated by Samantha Kannemeyer, an animal conservationist and active opponent of rhino poaching. Richard Tsedi of Boetelo Sun Valley Resort has offered the venue free of charge, the Choppies Group provided funding for the purchase of T-shirts to be sold on the day in support of the cause and Naledi Motors donated monies to cover event activities. Additional funding has also come from Susan Appling Johnson and Rosemary Alles, private benefactors residing in the USA. Organisers are encouraging the general public to turn out and support the event in what will be a fun family day, albeit with a serious message, either to joi in the walk or to take advantage of the attractions on offer, which include traditional dancing, a flea market, local and popular food and motivational guest speakers.
The illegal trade is a trans-national business that funds terrorist organisations, fuels conflict in Africa, and poses environmental, development and security challenges. The illegal wildlife trade is also a lucrative business, generating an estimated USD$20 billion(160 billion pula) per year.
At the launch of the United for Wildlife “#WhoseSideAreYou” campaign, in June this year, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge said, “There are two thousand critically endangered species on the verge of being lost forever. It’s time to choose a side – between the endangered animals and the criminals who kill them for money. I am calling on people all around the world to tell us: whose side are you on?”
The answer will be loud and clear from the thousands of people in over 100 cities worldwide joining the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER) on 4th October this year. English comedian, actor and producer, Ricky Gervais has voiced his support of the GMFER event, saying "How can we allow the extinction of 2 magnificent creatures for the sake of the some morons owning tasteless trinkets or trying fake medicine."
Also in support of the GMFER event, Joanna Lumley, OBE and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, says "If we stand by and watch the brutal extinction of rhino and elephant, the stain of shame on our human consciousness will never be forgiven or forgotten."
Officially acknowledged by United For Wildlife as an event that will raise awareness about the challenges facing the world’s wildlife, GMFER organisers hope the event will also help to reduce demand for endangered species ‘products’ and will be pushing for governments to ban all commercial trading of endangered wildlife and to put an end to wildlife trafficking.
“Individuals, and society as a whole, can choose to shun ivory, rhino horn, lion and tiger bones as commodities,” say event organisers, “but we need governments to play their part too, by increasing penalties for bribery, corruption and trafficking offenses, and by shutting down all retail outlets and ivory carving factories, for example.” The GMFER event will also call on governments to publicly destroy their stockpiles of illegal wildlife products, to show “zero tolerance for illegal trading”.
In Africa four elephants are illegally killed for their ivory every hour, and estimates are that between only 300,000 to 500,000 survive today. Illegally killed for their horn, it is estimated that less than 22,000 African rhino now remain. As for the ‘king of the jungle’, more lions survive now in captivity, where they are bred for petting then hunting, than roam in the wild.
Their path to extinction is very clear and the culprit is well understood. “Ivory, rhino horn, lion and tiger bones continue to be sold to feed a relentless and growing demand, largely in Asia, where the body parts of these endangered animals are still viewed as highly sought after products,” explain the GMFER event organisers.
The ivory and rhino horn trade is particularly cruel and gruesome, not only do poachers indiscriminately slaughter adults, babies or whole herds alike, but often hack off an elephant’s tusks or rhino’s horns while they are still alive. “When it comes to choosing between saving the elephant, rhino and lion from extinction or slaughtering them for some mythical medicinal property or want for an expensive carving, we’ve made our choice.”