White Elephants and Gray Elephants


Les Afriques

Date Published

Poaching is wreaking havoc on the African continent. If nothing is done, then we will witness the disappearance of these large mammals and many others, and Africa will empty of  its wildlife. In Cameroon, trustworthy sources reported the killing of over 600 elephants in a national park. This same disaster is being experienced throughout the subregion of Central Africa, where four elephants are slaughtered every hour.

The real disaster affects other species, such as big cats, primates, etc. Economists estimate the traffic around $19 billion per year; careful trade financed by international mafias that profit from collusion of corrupt officials in affected countries. Poachers often better armed than the rangers, loot a wildlife preserve. As long as the powers that play the game of an integrated tourism development—nay, an integrated and inclusive ecotourism—the local people are the guarantors of ecosystems.

But what to expect from those who fatten white elephants? When construction sites, overcharged, are inscribed on aggregate records and that the field is left barely pregnant, or that there are paved roads on paper but they actually remain lateritic . . . we talk about white elephants! Will the powers that maintain such white elephants  help to finance a team of investigators to infiltrate networks and trace them back to the ivory traffickers?