Visits to this site have jumped recently. This elephant pic seems to be playing an out-sized role in the jump.
The dolled-up, Photoshop’d version is making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.
One day, I hope that the pink will be real – if significantly paler. (Elephants don’t see reds well, so pink may be a good choice.)
This site doesn’t have the answer. The intent is to make the idea plausible enough to intrigue the right people to explore it.
Please comment with suggestions. Please link to this site. If you can’t research it, you can still help. Please forward the site to someone you know of who might look into it.
The choice of stain to use is the biggest hurdle, so send it to someone you know who develops non-toxic dyes at a food company. Or that hair color chemist you met who works at L’Oreal.
Or the neighbor who stains bone samples for research (histotechnologist).
Or your brother’s cosmetic dentist who – for something different – might like to figure out how to stain teeth pink rather bleach them white.
Or that nice ivory conservator who might open up about what stains she’s never been able to remove.
Sure, staining tusks is a fringe idea, but I wonder about it because our current anti-poaching strategies are problematic. I go into this at All We Do For the Elephants . . . Exactly. The piece on MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) might be the best introduction to the issues.
Wildlife experts say staining tusks can’t be done. Dr Samuel Wasser at the Univ of Washington explained this to me.
And me? The guy without any credentials and who hasn’t seen an elephant in years? The wildlife experts’ objections seem more like challenges. How’s that for nerve?
I go into why the dye is such a big challenge here. Finding the right one would strongly motivate people to solve the other challenges.
If it is possible to stain elephant tusks to save them, I think that the solution will begin with a conversation between a couple of wildlife experts and some of the people mentioned above who have never thought that what they do could possibly contribute to an anti-poaching strategy.
Here’s a brief example of the NGO mindset of appeasement that pushes me to look at ideas like staining:
In June 2015, after much delay, the Tanzanian government released a 2014 report that showed their elephant population fell 60% in 5 years. 65,000 elephants had been killed. The government claims that only 53,000 of the 65,000 are dead; the other 12,000 are simply missing. One minister is sure they’d emigrated, but I’m not sure where’d they go. Botswana is the only African country to attract a steady flow of elephants from other countries, and it’s 500 miles away.
Tanzania’s poaching and smuggling problems have been reported – outside the country – for a couple of years now. The severity has been attributed to the complicity of government officials.
So, in June, with the report finally released, with publicity and outrage at their hottest, you’d think the anti-poaching organizations would pressure Tanzania’s government to reform.
No, instead, they offered face-saving. Two of the biggest anti-poaching NGOs, WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), let them off the hook by partnering with the government on a feel-good campaign: Poaching Steals from Us All
WildAid and AWF aren’t naive, however. The campaign doesn’t appear to have a fundraising component. It seems solely about awareness raising. The government may be get some ill-deserved goodwill but no cash. On the other hand, WildAid and AWF will likely make some money off the campaign by highlighting it in their general fundraising efforts and end-of-year reports.
See my comments on AWF at All We Do For The Elephants . . . Exactly.
Thanks to both the unknown elephant photographer and the unknown Photoshop artist.