An elephant’s worth is like everything in life – it is worth more to some than others. So how do you value an elephant? Do you see elephants as intrinsically valuable, intelligent and majestic in their own right? Do you base an elephant’s value on how much someone is willing to pay for one? How much someone is willing to pay to see one? To kill one?
The stories from Myanmar are endless and the voices never cease. But if you multiply that by all those in other countries who have a personal narrative to tell about elephants – whether from seeing them in a timber camp, in the wild in Africa or Asia, on the streets in Bangkok, in tourist camps or know of their plight through their government or private sector experience or from learning of them from the news, documentaries or social media – the number of stories is simply incalculable. Every story, and every experience is a critical piece in solving the puzzle to finally ending the struggle facing these animals - but only if those stories become voices.
Once governments in elephant range countries, like Nigeria, embrace the benefits of establishing a humane economy – which is simply an economy that thrives on saving and protecting wildlife and not destroying it - people will see the value of saving elephants and the senseless killing will be greatly diminished. The results of building a humane economy will include growth in jobs, eco-tourism, tax revenue, international recognition and support, and greater safety and security within their borders and the continent as a whole. Not only is saving elephants a moral imperative, the facts are clear that saving an elephant has a greater positive fiscal impact to a country than allowing for their senseless killing.
I am a believer in direct democracy and its ability to empower the people. I have seen how animal welfare advocates have used direct democracy to unite people at the ballot box. I am a believer in the protection of animals as well and particularly elephants. I feel strongly that saving this majestic, iconic, keystone species is a testament to our humanity and if we fail, then, in my opinion, we have failed as humans – and I am not alone in those beliefs.
The Elephant Project is creating new communities in developing countries that will provide jobs, housing, education and health care to the people. We will create real estate investment opportunities for those who want to own a home or invest in a business in an exotic location near an elephant sanctuary, and we will create a safe and secure home for captive and wild elephants in need. Does this sound crazy? Innovative? Both?
Every year on August 12th we celebrate World Elephant Day. It is a date on which we should all pause and reflect on how we define our humanity. Though there are differences around the world that divide us, one thing that should unite us is our love, care and compassion for all animals and especially elephants – a majestic keystone species on the brink of extinction....On this important day, we should take solace in the fact that despite the immense challenges of protecting elephants globally from extinction, there is hope that the bulwark is growing stronger as evidenced by what is unfolding in Myanmar.