Should All Poachers Be Shot? Famed Explorers Talk Elephant Conservation

By now, you’ve probably heard the troubling statistics. Some 35,000 African elephants are killed every year for their ivory. Tanzania has lost nearly 60 percent of its elephant population in just five years as the sky-high price of ivory drives poachers to risk their lives for a quick payday.

But for famed National Geographic explorers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the fight for these creatures is far from over. The filmmakers have spent their lives documenting the beauty of imperiled animals from lions to rhinos. Now, they’re turning to elephants.

The Huffington Post sat down with the Jouberts ahead of the premiere of their new documentary, Soul of the Elephant, for the PBS program “Nature.” They spoke about the peaceful nature of the pachyderms, the lengths matriarchs will go to to save their families and why it’s absurd to think of these great creatures as solely animals removed from humanity.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

We think of elephants as massive creatures that rule the savannah. But is it actually hard to kill an elephant when you pair it against a human with an assault rifle?

Dereck Joubert: It’s as hard to kill an elephant as it is to kill a [door]. These things are huge animals, you can hardly miss them. Shooting an elephant is not a challenge at all, and you can virtually walk right up to them and shoot them.

Why there’s such hype around killing the Big Five [the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros] is a mystery. The Big Five hunting philosophy is the five most dangerous animals on the planet, certainly in Africa. But almost all of them are really easy to kill.

They just look good on the wall because they’re big.

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