Elephant family values



Elephants present a special set of problems when the question of exploitation arises. These fall loosely into the areas of ecology, economics and ethics. By drawing comparisons with the rules that different cultures follow for exploiting other species, this chapter looks at the different values attached to a family of elephants, alive or dead. It addresses the questions of whether the international trade in ivory and other elephant products should be reopened; whether elephant-viewing tourism is reaching its full potential; and whether those who decide on the fate of the elephant are taking into account the economic benefits of other species that are ecologically dependent on elephants. The debate is set against the wider picture of the decline of the Proboscidea and the concomitant rise of Homo sapiens.

The conclusions reached are that elephants are undervalued for their role as keystone species in African and Asian ecosystems and underused as tourist attractions, and that, wherever possible, they should be allowed to dwell in naturally regulated numbers in those ecosystems which have evolved to depend on their presence.


Mountain Gorilla Asian Elephant African Elephant Elephant Population Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla 
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