The Challenge to Elephant Protection in China

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This Elephant Voices contribution is by Amber Zhou, a 19 year old student in Zhejiang Province China who loves elephants. This is her story in her own words about the situation in China regarding elephant protection.


My name is Amber Zhou and I am a Chinese student. I watched a Chinese reality TV program one week ago, fortuitous meeting in life, the content of the first episode deeply touched me. The host went to Zambia with the guests to see elephants. In this episode, local breeder and animal protector told us the dangerous situation about elephants and endangered death threat. The cruel killings and the huge number of dead elephants per month surprised me. I immediately decided to join in the conservation of elephants.

In Africa, 100 elephants are killed every day for their ivory. That number is increasing yearly. African elephants are endangered. In Asia, elephants are killed because of their skin. Asian elephants are also facing an increasingly dangerous situation due to the growing demand for elephant skin.

The elephants’ dangerous situation is caused by human beings, not only the killer, but also the public. In China, the issue of animal protection is hard to get attention, but an environmental problem can catch people’s eyes easily. A few days ago, McDonald and Starbucks canceled the supply of straws, this news became the headlines of Weibo (the most popular social media in China). We can find that environmental problems can easily get attention among the public, though it faced the same cold treatment ten years ago. Nowadays, the issue of elephant faces the same cold treatment, most people do not know the status of elephants being hunted, most people do not understand the cruel killing methods of poachers. People choose to ignore.

Let us see how the government handled environmental issues in the past year. Environmental issues must be maintained based on people’s awareness. In recent years, waste sorting was a government-focused project, because it is meaningful for saving sources. The government had infiltrated environmental protection into every primary and secondary school, every living community, even everyone’s doorstep. The information can reach everyone’s mind, this awareness can be communicated from the child to the parents, can be communicated from the family to the society. With strong publicity and effective supervision, awareness of environmental protection was accepted by people of all ages. Besides, it strengthened the awareness of garbage classification. From this example, we can realize that raising awareness of elephant protection requires an organization which can infiltrate into every aspect of people’s lives. Every child and every adult need to have awareness of elephant protection, and every individual can drive people around them. “A single spark can start a prairie fire.” A famous saying in China conveys the same faith to us in the present.

A major news happened a few days ago, in Chongqing. The bus crashed into the river and caused casualties. The cause of this incident was that the passenger in the car had a dispute with the driver. The driver lost temperature so that caused the bus to fall into the river. Most people blamed the passenger who provoked the quarrel, but if the other passengers on the bus can stand out and stopped the conflict, the result would change. When they chose to ignore, they chose death. This sad story told us when it was a difficulty, we need to stand up. Keeping silence has no effect, only standing up and speaking out can stop the tragedy from happening.

The relationship between human beings and the elephant is the same as the other passengers and the driver. If human beings choose to ignore the tragic status of elephants, they also choose the unhealthy ecological relationship, choose the hopeless future of the relationship between man and nature.

I have watched a TED before, the speaker told the audience, “When it's time to say these hard things, I ask myself three things. One, did you mean it? Two, can you defend it? Three, did you say it with love? If the answer is yes to all three, I say it and let the chips fall.” Her speech encouraged me a lot. When I hesitated whether should I yell for elephants, I realized my silence served nothing. So, just like she said, it is our obligation, it is our duty to speak, to break the silence, not just when it's difficult-- especially when it's difficult.

Elephants are not able to speak, they can’t express their anxiety and pain. So I choose to speak for them.

I hope everyone who is reading this article, join us, speak in front of the public, protect elephants. Your force is important to us.

New ideas, new solutions, and a new future. This should not be just a slogan, it should be a goal, it should be a direction of our actions.


Elephant Voices is a blog series sponsored by The Elephant Times and The Elephant Project. These are personal narratives from people around the world about their views and feelings about elephants and the struggles they face. If you or someone you know would like to contribute please let us know by emailing us at info@theelephantpoject.net.