You think poachers talk like that?

This post is a little beside the point of this blog. Some thoughts on something a big game hunter said about hunting elephants before it’s too late . . .

Like most people, I find it easy to be against poaching elephants for their tusks. 

But, I ask myself, am I against killing the occasional elephant if the tusks are not removed? You know, if they’re kept with the head as part of a trophy for the manor wall or with the whole carcass for a display in a big box store?

Cabelas Hamburg Pa Store 2

Cabela’s Hamburg, Pa store (Google Maps)

What got me asking was yesterday’s Wall Street Journal’s obituary of Richard Cabela, the co-founder of Cabela’s, a big box store chain for outsdoorsmen. “In 2013, about a fifth of Cabela’s $3.6 billion in sales came through guns and ammo.” A good chunk more came from the accessories a hunter needs to further improve the odds of successful and comfortable expeditions.

They have about 50 stores in the US and Canada that have these stunning diaramas of taxidermied deer, moose, polar bears and the like. There’s a Disney flair to these exhibits.

The stores are vast and open except for part of the gun department which is given over to a store within a store, set off and designed to feel like an elegant jewelry store. There I can see rare and antique guns for sale.

Though not a gun guy, I shop at their stores when living near one for boots and culture shock. I should be uneasy about doing so, but I’m not.

This is the end of the obit: “Recounting a recent trip to Ethiopia, booked after he heard a rumor that elephant hunting would be shut down across Africa, Cabela said in the [NRA’s 2011] videotaped interview, ‘I told Mary, we’d better go shoot an elephant before we can’t do it anymore.'”

You think poachers talk like that?


6 thoughts on “You think poachers talk like that?

  1. I’m a veterinarian with a MS in nutrition and biochemistry and I will be happy to help in any way I can.

    Has anyone looked at fluoroescein or new methylene blue dyes? They are both non toxic at doses used for diagnostic procedures. I’m sure there are other dyes that can be used as well. If linked to calcium food source perhaps it can be concentrated either in ute to or in juveniles?

    • Thank you for the comment.

      As far as I know there is no research being done. This blog is 3 and a half years old with 125,000 views. Sadly, it has failed to inspire any research to my knowledge. I have contacted a few relevant professionals over the years and gotten no or wary replies.

      My hope has been that someone like you with compassion and curiosity would take up the challenge. Using your knowledge and training to frame the hard, technical questions. Using your credentials to enlist others to help you figure out how to answer them.

      • I think we all need to be realistic about the challenges, MUCH as we would love to find a dye that is safe and would do the job. The logistics and expense of safely darting and treating vast numbers of elephants would require huge numbers of well-equipped experts and very expensive equipment, distributed throughout Africa.

        Treating a herd of elephants means being able to safely separate individuals from their herds, dart them in an accessible area without injury to the animal, and then fend off VERY angry family members while administering/applying the dye. While treatment is happening, the animal’s airway must be kept open, and water poured over the animal, generally around/under the ears, to guard against overheating. Then of course the antidote is administered and the team must wait until the individual has awakened and safely regained its footing. It’s a dangerous undertaking at the best of times, and this would need to be done thousands upon thousands of times.

        Also keep in mind that unless the dye is such that it travels up the tusk to the 25% of it that is seated in the jaw and not visible on the elephant, the elephant will still be killed for that unseen 25%.

        Assuming that such a penetrating dye could be found, as the tusks continue to grow, the dyeing process would still have to be repeated periodically. It would be a massive undertaking even if the perfect dye formula could be invented or found.

        I was very excited about this idea of dyeing tusks at one time, but I’ve since had several conversations with people who’ve made it their lives’ work to study elephants in Africa, and it seems to be the consensus that it’s just not doable given both the expertise and equipment that would be needed to mount such an operation, How I WISH this weren’t so, but I fear it is.

      • Knocking out elephants to stain their tusks is indeed a really dumb idea, so how do we do stain them? Let’s turn the obstacles into challenges. That’s what this blog is all about.

        I go over the same ground as you do in several places on the blog. For example, here’s my visual take.

        Thank you for adding some valuable color and detail.

        At the sister blog, All We Do For the Elephants . . . Exactly, I explore some of the issues that make NGOs and governments less than effective in protecting the elephants.

        These 2 blogs suggest that staining is plausible while pointing out the insufficiencies of our current anti-poaching efforts. The hope is that together they can fire up the elephant experts, animal drug delivery vets, dye specialists, logistics pros and diplomats to realize how we can stain tusks to help save the elephants.

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