Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review of "Ivory, Horn and Blood" by Ronald Orenstein - An Impassioned Plea For Action To Preserve The Remaining Elephant and Rhino Species

Elephants and rhinos are among my favorite creatures walking the earth.  I am, after all, known as "The White Rhino," so there is a natural affinitt for my cousins charging around Africa and Asia trying to stay one step ahead of the poachers.

Ronald Orenstein has written a book that pleads with readers to understand the complexities of the poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia.  "Ivory, Horn and Blood: Behind The Elephant and Rhino Poaching Crisis" is a comprehensive analysis of the current crisis, and a balanced discussion of the many options being considered to save the remaining populations of rhinos and elephants in both Africa and Asia.

The book is written in a rather pedantic manner.  I suspect that this is a deliberate choice on the part of the author to avoid undue sensationalism and emotionalism.  The result, however, is a book that is rather dry and plodding.  He writes primarily from the perspective of the plethora of government and NGO bureaucracies that have sprung up to address various aspects of the ivory and rhino horn trade.  Particular attention is paid to the controversial CITES - Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  

It is clear from this book that CITES is like Winston Churchill's notorious definition of democracy: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."  CITES, with all of its flaws, is probably the best option available now for curbing the trade in ivory and rhino horns and thereby preserving what may be left of our herds of elephants and crashes of rhinos.

The bottom line in reading this book is that the best actions that any individual reader can take in helping to ensure the perpetuation of these magnificent creatures is to refrain from buying ivory and rhino horn products, to encourage others to refrain from making such purchases, and to contribute to NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and similar organizations.

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