There’s a serious problem with elephant poaching in Tanzania, and it seems to be getting worse by the day. The series of articles below outline some of what’s happening in this beautiful country and just how devastating the Asian demand for ivory is to Tanzania’s natural resources.
We can consider elephants as natural capital, a resource base which may be replenished given enough time for growth. However, it would appear that current rates of destruction from ivory poaching far outstrip elephants’ natural replacement rate, meaning that overall populations in Tanzania will continue to decline.
The final few articles delve into some of the internal politics influencing the failure to effectively police ivory and rhino poaching in Tanzania, including a petition to return a government minister to his role combatting poaching.
At the current rate of killing, there may be no more elephants in Tanzania within a decade. That means no elephants on safari anywhere – not in Serengeti, not in Mikumi, or Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, or Tarangire. Nowhere!
Welcome back to IST and our soon-to-be fun-filled chemistry unit! In this post, I’ve linked to several helpful tools for understanding the way electrons are arranged around the nuclei of atoms, and how those arrangements impact ionic charges as well as bonding patterns among elements.
The video tutorial below clearly explains how valence electrons determine ionic charges and, therefore, bonding patterns. It’s based on the Octet rule, which is one of the most important concepts you’ll need to know from this unit.
The Crash Course Science video below explains a lot about the movement and arrangement of electrons in atoms. Most of the video is relevant to our unit, but some of it won’t be covered until next year’s chemistry sequence. Nevertheless, it’s worth a watch and quite entertaining.
One last video. This one’s mostly for entertainment value, but it is in fact scientifically accurate.
We are 1 week from the summative unit test in grade 9 science, which means it’s time to start revising. Here’s a list of the major topics you’re likely to find on the test.
Cell structure and function
Plant vs animal
Energy flow through ecosystems
Nutrient cycles within ecosystems
Photosynthesis and respiration
Levels of organization
There will be several skills assessed on the test: recalling scientific facts (vocabulary and definitions, labeling diagrams), explaining scientific concepts, analyzing results, and evaluating trends in experimental data. Make sure you know this stuff well!
I’ve posted this first article before – from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – which outlines the links between ivory from east Africa and narcotics in Asia. The embedded version is the short one, and the full version is available to download here: Ivory and Organized Crime in East Africa.PDF
The following item is a dissertation research paper by Justine Braby, an Environmental Law Postgraduate candidate at the University of Cape Town. In it, she examines how effective the CITES ban on ivory has been since implemented. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a global framework for reducing and/or eliminating the trade in all endangered organisms for commercial gain. The CITES website has a lot of very specific information directly relating to the ESS Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity, as well as the Grade 9 poaching project. I recommend you check out both the articles posted here, as well as the CITES page.
Here are a few more links relating to this topic, which seems to be all over the news lately.
This first item, from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the same organization which just declared the Western Black Rhino officially extinct) is a publication called Pachyderm. In it, there are several case studies about both rhinos and elephants, including some information on using micro-chemical evidence to trace the origin of poached ivory. Here’s the link to the complete PDF.
Edge of Existence is a website I recently stumbled across, and I think it has a lot of well-researched information about a lot of issues in wildlife conservation. EDGE stands for “Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered” species – unique creatures threatened by human activities around the world. Their page for elephants, linked here, has some really useful information on elephants’ role in maintaining the savanna ecosystem, conservation initiatives currently in use, links to organizations involved in elephant conservation, and references to more scientific information about Loxodonta africana.
A younger-looking Sir David Attenborough with lemurs from Madagascar. (Screen capture image from www.bbc.co.uk)
And finally, no wildlife conservation unit would be complete without at least one video from Sir David Attenborough (probably my favorite scientist of all time). The short video clip linked here is from Sir David’s earlier work in Madagascar, so he looks a bit different than most of you are used to seeing him. It was originally released in 1961 – 52 years ago!
The study was carried out in conjunction with Sokoine University in Morogoro, just a couple of hours from here.
The targeted areas are Mikumi National Park in Tanzania and Amboseli in Kenya, so it’s entirely relevant to where we live.
The inclusion of simple graphs with the article complement and support the written work of the authors, and it can serve as an example to you students about how to use visual aids in your scientific writing.
I also found this 2006 document from the World Wildlife Fund – the Wildlife Trade Factsheet 2006.PDF – which “is designed to give a broad overview of the environmental harm that illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade can cause, and to give examples of WWF and TRAFFIC’s work and solutions on the ground.” (www.panda.org)
While I was at the AMMUN conference in Jordan, IPP media published this article about a recent ivory haul in Mikocheni, just a few blocks from my house in Dar es Salaam. Police uncovered more than 700 pieces of ivory, “representing more than 200 tuskers killed,” according to the newspaper’s sources.
I post this link because I want you to realize that poaching isn’t just something that happens ‘out there’ in the bush. It is inherently linked to the trade and economy of Dar es Salaam, and it is happening in our neighborhoods. You probably sit next to someone who is somehow involved in poaching each time you’re stuck in one of Dar’s famous traffic jams.