ELEPHANT SLAUGHTER V
ILLAR MUUL PhD
PRESIDENT & FOUNDER
President and Founder of Integrated Conservation Research
If you are a new reader, please note that this is the fifth in a series of commentaries about the October 2012 article that appeared in the National Geographic Magazine (NGM), entitled "Blood Ivory." I was outraged when I read it as I thought anyone would be who read it. My first response was to send a letter to the editor (some of our initial support came from National Geographic Society). It was not published. My guess is that it was sent for peer review to other conservationists, many of whom have rejected or ignored our (ICR) conservation strategy. Earlier commentaries have addressed that issue (I-IV and are available at this web-site's archives).
Dear reader, if you have read this far, be patient. I am taking you on an intellectual and practical adventure. It will be bumpy. Many will not continue the trip. But, if you do, you will realize the depth and the breadth of the problems we face. The elephants are only one species, among many facing disaster. I may be preaching to the choir, but there may be additional hymns to be learned. (Shucks, now I have probably lost many of the academicians with my analogy).
With the help of the commentaries, I had hoped to make the "Elephant Slaughter" and the NGM article go "viral." I have heard: "the internet is everything," "all the information is available," "just google it" (who is Google, by the way, who enters all the information?)
Dear reader, if you are still with me, you are likely to be in a small minority. But, I promise, this is going somewhere.
My hopes were dashed. If I would have written about a two-headed calf, the results may have been much greater. My friend Professor E.O. Wilson, who has written many excellent books on many topics, including conservation, recently wrote "The world is drowning in information, but starving for wisdom." No university offers a degree in "wisdom." I have not seen a course listed for "wisdom." The closest I have seen was taught by Prof. Marston Bates (University of Michigan 1960's) entitled "Zoology in Human Affairs." I was privileged to assist Marston. But, Zoology majors were not allowed to take it for credit. Marston was not allocated space in the Zoology Building. But, he was the second highest paid professor in the University.
Fast forward to today: many courses taught now are "derivatives" of Marston's course and his many books. Are you still with me, Dear Reader? Hang on.
In 1992, the first "Earth Summit" was held in Rio, Brazil. It was attended by world's leaders in conservation: Gro Bruntland, former President of Norway; Maurice Strong, former Finance Minister of Canada; Dr. Mohd Mahathir, Prime Minister of Malaysia; and many other notable people; and of course, protestors. The "Summit" created great enthusiasm and hope. Funds were promised, "strategies," were discussed, people were motivated for action.
In 2012, "RIO plus 20" was convened. Far fewer notable people attended. Enthusiasm had waned because progress in 20 years had been minimal. In many areas deforestation had accelerated. Many endangered species, including the elephants, were disappearing faster. I witnessed that happening during our own work in Asia, South America, and Africa.
So what was the consensus of "RIO plus 20"? From what I could see in reviews (and Dear Reader, please indulge my sarcasm), the "mainstream" of conservationists pledged to work harder in the next 20 years (with less funding projected), based on plans and policies that have shown to have largely failed in the last 20 years.
Having written that, I will lose even more credibility among the mainstream, than in the past. Why? Because we (ICR) think and operate "outside of the box." We use counterintuitive strategies, which are often controversial, and often rejected. If any "mainstreamer" read the earlier commentaries, they likely did not go to our web site. If they did, they likely would not even click on "Rainforest Beef" or "Rainforest Residences (Eco-acres)." So, they do not even know what is inside.
Dear Reader, (if there are any left at this point), the "gloves have come off." For 25 years, I have tried to be diplomatic, but still logical and "results oriented." The few of you who are left, Dear Reader, may include those who also have witnessed what I have. Some of my close friends subscribe to NGM; they see it on their coffee table. Their kids see it, between video games. Educated people, upper middle class people, vaguely remember, when asked about, "Blood Ivory," but continued their every day routine. The world has become numb, while we indulge in our pleasures.
How many of you are left, Dear Reader? What are you prepare to do? What do you think?
I have written 2 more commentaries while in Costa Rica, coordinating our activities there. My publisher places them on the internet pro-bono. My wife types them pro-bono. Should I go on writing, Dear Reader? Please let me know.
We do not have all the answers. But, we may have some. We have created jobs all over the world. For those still interested I have prepared a list of some of the ICR accomplishments, which will soon be available at this site for your appraisal.
My childhood hero was Lone Ranger. Some of you in my generation may remember him (for others, it is on the "internet"). He had a secret silver mine which supported his good works. As he rode out of town, in each episode, he left behind a silver bullet (it was his "Brand"). We leave behind jobs, regenerating forests, animals no longer afraid of poachers, and therefore, visible to rainforest tourists, canopy walkways, trained nature interpreters, etc. But, we have not spent any money for "branding." That may be a mistake, but many other organizations spend large parts of their budgets on "branding." It works to bring in donation money. We hope to bring in "green" investors.
"Doing Well by Doing Good."
A fund has been set up by:
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Illar Muul, PhD
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