(NEW YORK) — Marchers took to the streets of London and dozens of other cities around the world Saturday, calling for an end to elephant and rhinoceros poaching, which is threatening both species in Africa.
According to conservationists, every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory, and every nine hours a rhino is killed for its horns.
“There’s a lot of talk, but we need to see more action,” said Simon Jones, founder of Helping Rhinos, a UK-based non-profit that advocates against rhino poaching. “We need more rangers on the ground and we need more campaigns in countries where ivory and rhino horns are sold.”
In Vietnam, China and other countries, rhino horns are considered to have strong healing powers and many are ready to pay big bucks to buy some.
Across Africa, several wildlife conservation organizations have started using methods to remove rhino horns safely and are pushing for a legalization of the trade. But poachers are still butchering elephants and rhinos in large numbers.
Today, there are fewer than 400,000 elephants and 18,000 rhinos in Africa and both species could be extinct within two decades, according to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos movement.
Michelle Sudbury, a South African who works in the finance sector in London, said she decided to join Saturday’s march to make her voice heard.
“Being from Africa, you’re just used to seeing rhinos and elephants,” she said. “It’s sickening to see the big money involved in the ivory trade.”
One solution is to stop the demand for ivory and rhino horns, Jones said.
“We need to change behaviors through legislation and politics,” he said. “For example, if people are told they can get 20 years of prison if they are caught with ivory or rhino horns, they will stop.”
He said that a good comparison could be drawn to laws against driving drunk.
“Not so long ago, people would go for drinks, and drive back home,” Jones said. “Now people don’t and it’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because they’re afraid of the consequences. We need the same thing to happen with poaching.”
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