The word tragedy is thrown around lightly, but we are on the verge of one. The figures speak for themselves. The slaughter is sky-rocketing.
Sir David Attenborough said years ago that we are the ones, bit by bit, person by person, minute by minute, who have depleted natural resources, destroyed habitat, decimated species.
We are the ones therefore who can change our behaviour, and undo what can be undone. What if people turn their backs on elephants, and say, ‘Well, it wasn’t me. I don’t buy ivory, and I don’t live where the problems are happening?’
Well, no. We lap up stories about elephants. We’ve seen how human they are, how responsive, how intelligent, how they raise their young and mourn their dead. Do we really want to end up saying, “Well we saw it on TV.”?
Who wants to inherit a world where elephants only live domestically, because they threaten crops, or because their land can be used for palm oil or logging?
When this country had its foot and mouth epidemic in 2001, one of the difficulties was that when you lose a flock of sheep, you lose the knowledge that they pass down to their young.
Even if we can keep the DNA and can keep elephants in safe houses in the hope of happier times in future, we are nevertheless interfering with centuries of knowledge within herds.
It is not an exaggeration to say elephant communities have cultures. That they have a relationship with their land.
No one likes to be thrown out of their home. It is their land. We are encroaching on it. We shouldn’t act like we own the planet, particularly given our dispensation to destroy its beauty.
Comedian and actor Alistair McGowan is a supporter of Space for Giants