African Elephants Will Be Extinct

12.18.12 7:47 PM ET

This, from the Guardian, really and truly makes me puke:

Jane Goodall, one of the world's greatest conservationists, has made an impassioned plea for a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory to prevent the extinction of the African elephant.

Her call follows the seizure in Malaysia last week of 24 tonnes of illegal ivory and a report by conservationists warning that the illegal ivory trade now threatens governments as rebel groups use the sale of tusks to fund their wars...

...China's growing presence in Africa has been blamed for an unprecedented surge in poaching. The discovery last week by Malaysian customs of 1,500 tusks hidden in secret chambers in 10 containers supposedly carrying wooden floor tiles was the largest illegal ivory haul ever, roughly equivalent to all the illegal ivory seized last year.

The containers were reportedly on their way to China via Spain from Togo, a popular destination for armed gangs to smuggle ivory. It follows the discovery in Hong Kong in October of nearly 1,000 pieces of ivory tusks from Tanzania and the discovery of more than 200 tusks in Tanzania itself.

The appalling things people will do to make money. It never stops. Elephants are such amazing and emotionally complex animals. I take it you've read about their burial rites. No? Well:

One of those small happenings where the elephant and the human worlds meet ….. Villagers from Wami told me about an elephant that had died nearby from natural causes (old age or disease). A group of about 6-8 elephants remained, standing around and apparently watching over the dead body which they covered with earth and branches. They stayed for around 4 days before moving on and leaving just one elephant who stayed for another 3 or 4 days before she left too.

An article the 8 Oct 2006 New York Times Magazine discusses elephant mourning in greater detail, “When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering it with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing the bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along the teeth of a skull’s lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting.”

How anyone could...well, we know how, don't we. So depressing. The National Geographic reports that a worldwide craze among the religious for devotional items, ivory Jesuses and and Buddhist and Taoist gods and so on. Why does such a craze hit? In part, says NatGeo, the international body assigned to regulating worldwide ivory trade somehow approved a massive sale of legal ivory to China and Japan in 2008, which sparked renewed interest, apparently.

The sickest thing I've ever heard of in my life came when I first heard about the market for fake malarial drugs. That beats all--making a profit off of fake drugs that will kill children. Ripping tusks off of elephants may not be number two. I'd probably reserve that spot for busting into a school and shooting up children. But it's up there.