Friday, April 5, 2013

Atrocity in Africa: Children murdered in front of mother!!!!

There is nothing a mother will not do for her infant but even she cannot protect it from bullets. About a year ago, killers attacked a family in central Africa. The surviving witness of the attack told us that the family's guards were completely outgunned. In the end, the mother, riddled with bullets and crying with pain and fear, was left to use her body to shield her baby. Her sacrifice was for naught; the baby was also killed. 
The above is from an article that I will link just below. Unfortunately this atrocity didn't get the media attention that it deserved in no small part because it's become too common in Central Africa. I was outraged and angered beyond belief when I read about it. Murdering a mother and her baby is beyond foul wouldn't you say. The kinds of people who would do such a thing need to be hunted down and either imprisoned for a long period of time or slowly and painfully permanently removed from the planet so that anyone else who would even think of committing such a crime can look at the corpses of those who did carry out this crime and hopefully take the proper and intended object lesson.

I mean how can you just shoot down a mother and her child. Where is your humanity? Why weren't the killers apprehended and tried in court? This needs to be stopped ASAP. I feel every strongly about such things. Don't you? You probably do feel that way having read what I just laid out. Most moral or normal people would. No one or at least no one who's not cartoonishly EVIL likes to read about the killings of a mother and her baby. That link between mother and child is fundamental to mammalian existence. 

But there's a twist here that may change your thoughts. What if I told you that the mother and child who were each murdered were not in fact human but rather elephants? And they were killed not to feed people or because they had threatened or killed humans but because some humans halfway around the world had a sick desire to use ivory for casual trinkets or displays of wealth. Would you say so what and click on another post? Would you think that the death of intelligent animals was worth this? Because I don't. I don't think it's worth it at all. And I think it must be halted. By what right do we kill an animal for fun? Is that something we ought to be doing? Do you think God gave you this right? Does God look kindly on the slaughter and sexual mutilation of creatures He created?
There is nothing a mother elephant will not do for her infant, but even she cannot protect it from bullets. About a year ago, poachers attacked a family of forest elephants in central Africa. The biologist who witnessed the attack told us that wildlife guards were completely outgunned. In the end, an elephant mother, riddled with bullets and trumpeting with pain and fear, was left to use her enormous body to shield her baby. Her sacrifice was for naught; the baby was also killed.
Such is the reality facing African forest elephants today.This mother and child were just two of the tens of thousands of forest elephants that have been butchered over the past decade. A staggering 62 percent vanished from central Africa between 2002 and 2011, according to a study we have just published with 60 other scientists in the journal PLoS One. It was the largest such study ever conducted in the central African forests, where elephants are being poached out of existence for their ivory.
In China and other countries in the Far East, there has been an astronomical rise in the demand for ivory trinkets that, no matter how exquisitely made, have no essential utility whatsoever. An elephant’s tusks have become bling for consumers who have no idea or simply don’t care that it was obtained by inflicting terror, horrendous pain and death on thinking, feeling, self-aware beings.
One of us recently came face to face with this horror while walking through a forest in central Africa. The sickening stench provided the first warning. As the smell grew more pungent, the humming sound of death that surrounds the body of a dead elephant became more pronounced: thousands of buzzing flies, laying eggs and feeding on the corpse. The body was grotesquely cloaked by white, writhing fly maggots; the belly was swollen with the gas of decay. The elephant’s face was a bloody mess, its tusks hacked out with an ax — an atrocity that is often committed while the animal is alive.
Now I'm from Michigan. Hunting season is huge here. Growing up I spent my summers down South, where hunting was also a cherished pastime. So I understand it. But I don't like it. I've never had interest in shooting something helpless. I take no joy in snuffing out a life. And there is a HUGE moral difference between killing an animal for your own survival or food, or because it's become numerically excessive and killing an animal strictly for fun, killing an animal which is intelligent enough to grieve and killing an animal which is already endangered and flirting with extinction. I think it's savage and immoral beyond words to murder an animal simply so you can have ivory jewelry. I am not a PETA member. But PETA isn't wrong on everything. You don't need to make deliberately offensive comparisons to slavery or the Holocaust to recognize that morally something is deeply wrong when humans kill rare animals for knick knacks. 

Although I do not like hunting and think it often morally problematic, deer in Michigan are a renewable resource. Deer are not being hunted to extinction. There is a department of natural resources which theoretically attempts to manage the deer population and identify and arrest poachers. When stray dogs and cats are taken into shelters and eventually euthanized I'd rather not think about that animal's last moments. But neither dogs nor cats are in danger of extermination. What the Africans and Asians are doing to the elephant species and for that matter the rhino population is something different in both intent and scale. The continuing existence of these species, among others, is at risk. 

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way for you to survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern... a virus.

I think Agent Smith was on to something. It is is increasingly difficult for 7 billion humans to live in balance with other life forms. What is the moral reason that we have for making distinctions between humans and animals? I'm no longer sure there is one. Perhaps if someone were hunting the poachers and their customers, they might understand that killing living creatures for fun isn't really a nice thing to do.
China, similarly to the US and maybe even more so, has some very ugly cultural traits. These were tolerable perhaps when China was poor and limited in its impact. But with China's increasing wealth and power there will be more conflict between China and everyone else over the world's natural resources and various flora and fauna. Just like with carbon emissions, the world may not be able to survive an unhinged and unchecked Chinese demand for natural resources. China has a lot to answer for and must play a more responsible role in future resource utilization. We can not  remove China as a player no matter how much that might help save the elephants so we must find a way to  force China, help China to alter its behavior, even as we change our own.

You would think that since in historical terms, African nations have only recently thrown off the chains of centuries long European resource exploitation via colonialism and imperialism, African nations would be a bit more wary of entering into more or less the same relationship with China. Unfortunately this isn't always the case.
In 30 years of fighting poachers, Paul Onyango had never seen anything like this. Twenty-two dead elephants, including several very young ones, clumped together on the open savanna, many killed by a single bullet to the top of the head.
Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say. 
But it is not just outlaws cashing in. Members of some of the African armies that the American government trains and supports with millions of taxpayer dollars — like the Ugandan military, the Congolese Army and newly independent South Sudan’s military — have been implicated in poaching elephants and dealing in ivory. Congolese soldiers are often arrested for it. South Sudanese forces frequently battle wildlife rangers. 
The vast majority of the illegal ivory — experts say as much as 70 percent — is flowing to China, and though the Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries, never before have so many of them been able to afford it. China’s economic boom has created a vast middle class, pushing the price of ivory to a stratospheric $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing. 
High-ranking officers in the People’s Liberation Army have a fondness for ivory trinkets as gifts. Chinese online forums offer a thriving, and essentially unregulated, market for ivory chopsticks, bookmarks, rings, cups and combs, along with helpful tips on how to smuggle them (wrap the ivory in tinfoil, says one Web site, to throw off X-ray machines).Last year, more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa, from Kenya to Nigeria, for smuggling ivory. And there is growing evidence that poaching increases in elephant-rich areas where Chinese construction workers are building roads. 
“China is the epicenter of demand,” said Robert Hormats, a senior State Department official. “Without the demand from China, this would all but dry up.He said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who condemned conflict minerals from Congo a few years ago, was pushing the ivory issue with the Chinese “at the highest levels” and that she was “going to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to address this, in a very bold way.” Foreigners have been decimating African elephants for generations. “White gold” was one of the primary reasons King Leopold II of Belgium turned Congo into his own personal fief in the late 19th century, leading to the brutal excesses of the upriver ivory stations thinly fictionalized in Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” and planting the seeds for Congo’s free fall today. Ivory Coast got its name from the teeming elephant herds that used to frolic in its forests. Today, after decades of carnage, there is almost no ivory left...
Now why does this matter? It matters because elephants are rare, intelligent animals. Killing them for trinkets is profoundly morally depraved and filthy. It also matters because removing elephants from the ecosystem may have unforeseen effects. Fewer or extinct elephants means fewer forests means higher carbon emissions means greater climate change. And when that occurs some of the same nations engaged in or underwriting this slaughter will be making pious UN speeches blaming the US for climate change and begging demanding more money. It matters because we simply cannot stand by and allow an atavistic Chinese and East Asian desire for ivory wipe out an entire species. And finally it matters because the violence and corruption endemic in poaching inevitably and literally bleeds out into African societies. How can you have a lawful or peaceful society when well armed criminal organizations or corrupt armies and police feel free to ignore the law and kill those who try to uphold it? How can Africa grow and thrive if it continues to serve primarily if not solely as a natural resource provider to The West and increasingly to China? 
It can't. It won't.
For short term profit, Africans will slaughter the wild animals that live in their countries. Three decades from now when the animals are all gone those countries will probably still be impoverished. If you're interested in getting more information and learning what you can do to help combat this disgusting slaughter please visit these sites.

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