The Plan to Save African Elephants

Read this free and critically important paper.

Presented succinctly in nine-and-a-half pages, our plan to save elephants from extinction outlines concrete steps that will make  a difference on the ground in elephant ranges.



Renowned strategy expert Michael Porter of The Harvard Business School said a business plan is not planned but crafted. In other words, it evolves with an emphasis on strengths and opportunities while threats or weaknesses are overcome, not unlike the plasticity of this plan.

Indeed, our plan will often change as we fight the war, battle after battle, against traffickers, poachers, and antiquated cultural dogma. Therefore, through the media, in the courts, and on the ground, the flexibility of our strategies and tactics maximizes the viability of our agenda. And so, while ever improving as the war wages, these are the five basic tenets of the plan.

As we embrace these tenets, we must be ever conscious of the urgency to implement them. For, poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants from 2010 to 2012, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, with one in 12 elephants lost in 2011. The elephant population in the world-famous Selous Reserve in Tanzania has plummeted by 67 percent in just four years, and there were 1.2 million African elephants in 1980 but only 420,000 in 2012—a staggering loss of 780,000 elephants.

That is why we must implement our plan expeditiously for the extinction of African elephants draws eminently near, as illustrated by this equation:

{420,000 African elephants remaining} ÷ {30,000 killed each year} = 14 years

Mindful of the fact that elephants, as a species, have survived for many thousands of years, fourteen years is precious little time. So, we invite you to read our plan with a sense of urgency.

(Please note that Executive Briefing: African Elephants, free and available on our website at ElephantRescue.Net, is a prerequisite to fully appreciating the strategies and tactics of this plan.)


I – ElephantRescue.Net will influence governments to destroy all stockpiles of elephant tusks immediately.

That is critically important since portions of stockpiles inevitably make their way to the market through theft or the holder’s decision to raise money from “approved” sales. For example, since the two legal sales of ivory in 1997 and 2008, both approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), there has been a significant increase in elephant poaching to fuel ivory trade.

CITES’s 1997 approval to sell elephant tusks sought to undermine the market by lowering the price, thereby reducing profits and creating a disincentive for trafficking. But it had the reverse effect. Traffickers in Southeast Asia, perhaps purposefully, misconstrued this as an implicit invitation to buy and sell. Yet, what causes incredulous dismay among conservationists is that although this plan proved to be a resounding failure in 1997, CITES implemented it again in 2008.

“CITES is sticking band-aids on with one hand and fueling poaching with the other. Its failure to combat the fundamental driver of the killing amounts to gross international negligence,” says Dr. Rosalind Reeve of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

The director of Robin des Bois, Charlotte Nithart, adds: “Any further discussion of legalizing ivory trade is a recipe for extinction . . . Just as the legal trade in cigarettes, medicines, and weapons has not stopped them being smuggled, the legal trade in ivory has not stopped the slaughter of elephants and smuggling of their ivory.”

“Any discussions on legalizing trade in wildlife products, be it ivory, rhino horns, or tiger parts, is stimulating demand,” explains Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA. “Such rhetoric must cease immediately if we are to reverse the trend toward extinction of these and other species.”

“CITES has a tendency to be swayed by proposals suggesting that large species such as elephants can be exploited sustainably and the profits set aside to provide funds for future conservation when there is no evidence that these have ever worked other than superficially in the short term,” said Andrew Dobson, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. “In contrast, there is evidence that shows how rapidly these schemes lead to loss of the resource species and only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme.”

Implementation: We will use political and legal influence and other law-abiding means to urge governments to destroy all stockpiles of elephant tusks, achieved by volunteers

1. write articles,
2. engage in email campaigns,
3. social media campaigns, and
4. peaceful demonstrations.

It is essential that all demonstrations we organize (or in which we participate) be thoroughly peaceful, conducted according to law, and coordinated with local law enforcement officials and officers. We must always be respectful, fully cooperative, and courteous to them. And, of course, participants must behave as ladies and gentlemen.


II – ElephantRescue.Net will assist Botswana.

The Republic of Botswana is a landlocked nation in south-central Africa with over two million people. The country is stable, and the government is incomparably honest among all African nations, which is fortunate, indeed, since Botswana is critical to the survival of African elephants for two reasons:

First, there are more elephants in Botswana than in any other country, so it is the crown jewel of the elephant kingdom.

Our concern is that after the genocide in Tanzania and other elephant-range countries, traffickers and poachers may set their sights on this haven. Thus, because Botswana is the center of the elephant universe, so to speak, its vigilance is paramount to our agenda, an issue we will address later in this section.

The estimated number of Botswana elephants varies greatly, and so we await a systemic counting process that is presently underway. Yet, thus far in the counting, it appears that about 40% of African elephants are in Botswana; this percentage should equal approximately 160,000 elephants. Furthermore, they are reproducing at about 5% each year. Adding to this growth are herds of elephants which became refugees fleeing the heavily poached countries bordering Botswana. And making Botswana more attractive to escaping herds, in 2015, the government wisely banned commercial trophy hunting on state land. So, ironically, there is the potential of overpopulation.

Yet, the absurd practice of culling to control these or other elephant populations should be outlawed. Jon Herskovitz discusses a much more intelligent approach. “Kwa Zulu-Natal province, in the southeast, is looking to expand a project running for more than a decade where elephant populations have been controlled by injecting cows with a vaccine that triggers an immune system response to block sperm reception. The testing of the vaccine, administered by dart and requiring an annual booster, has been conducted at 14 small reserves. Studies have shown it is reversible, nearly 100 percent effective, and has no adverse impact on elephant health or behavior.” 1

This method will allow zero population growth in which natural deaths equal births, so the population will stabilize and, in turn, will make food supply, range territories, and protection more manageable.

We must also consider that, besides hosting the largest elephant population, Botswana has the highest ratio of elephants per human. Should the population of elephants equal 160,000, then there is about 1 elephant for every 14 people. That burdens the citizenry, both from taxation and land sharing. It also belabors the flora as elephants forage for food.

The second reason Botswana is critical to the survival of African elephants is that the president, His Excellency Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, and the government are trustworthy.

Such trustworthiness is why Berlin-based Transparency International listed the Republic of Botswana as 30 out of 177 countries, ranked upon public sector integrity in 2013. Not surprisingly, Botswana was first on Transparency International’s list of all African countries.

By contrast, several other African leaders are unworthy of trust, precluding our ability to help elephant herds as much as we would like in such nations. Indeed, the untrustworthiness of African leadership is the singular overarching problem of protecting elephants.

It is also encouraging that President Ian Khama is a wildlife conservationist. Speaking at an international meeting on elephant conservation in the Botswanan capital in December 2014, he declared that his government had deployed “all our security forces” to guard against poachers. 2 His words were echoed by Commander Lieutenant General Gaolathe Galebotswe, who was quoted by The Botswana Daily News on April 16, 2015, as saying, “The army will continuously protect the wildlife population, which currently exists because of the commitment by the past and current leadership.”

Rudi van Aarde of the University of Pretoria, who studies regional elephant populations, stated it succinctly: “Peace and conservation success go hand in hand. Warfare and unrest and improper governance go hand in hand with conservation failures.” 3 Based on this observation, as well as the other comments we have considered, along with Botswana’s history, Botswana is a stunning example and catalyst for— not only African nations — but every nation around the world.

Moreover, His Excellency Ian Khama was Commander of the renowned Botswana Defense Force (BDF) before becoming the nation’s leader, so he is eminently qualified militarily and most assuredly understands the challenge of protecting Botswana’s elephants. At the same time, the Republic of Botswana is about the size of France, so securing its borders from poachers with the 12,000-man BDF (many of whom are reservists) could be challenging if, after destroying the herds in other African countries, traffickers from Southeast Asia focus on Botswana. Yet, as long as the government maintains its integrity as it has done over the years, the BDF will keep the situation well in hand; poachers fear this disciplined and highly effective fighting force.

Therefore, ElephantRescue.Net approaches the sovereign nation of Botswana as servants to His Excellency, the president, in hopes that we might, if needed, augment his campaign to defend elephants.

Implementation: With the permission and under the auspices of the Botswana government, ElephantRescue.Net will assist with or carry out:

Range Management Programs such as:

1. Reforestation, ensuring that plenty of nourishing food for vast herds will be available for future generations,
2. Promoting water conservation because much of Botswana is desert and drought constantly threatens herds.
3. Temporarily and harmlessly preventing births for population management by providing reversible vaccines, as described above.

Elephant Defense Program assistance for specific, approved programs through:

1. fundraising,
2. grant writing and, possibly,
3. lobbying.


III – The acquisition of land bordering elephant ranges.

That is necessary since the human population of Sub-Saharan Africa will more than double over the next thirty-five years to 2.4 billion people.

And, “Africa’s population explosion has the potential to zoom past current estimates”, said Carl Haub, a senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based non-profit group.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has, without a doubt, the greatest population growth potential of any region,” said Haub. “The projection today is that it will increase by about two-and-a-half times. But the important thing to remember is that even that projection assumes that the birth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa will decrease. And in many of those countries today, it [has] not.” Consequently, the population could exceed their projection of 2.4 billion by 2050. That is quite possible—perhaps probable—since the United Nations predicts the population of Sub-Saharan Africa might quadruple to 4.2 billion by 2100. 4

Furthermore, 30% of its population suffers from malnutrition. Clean water became less available to 63 million people, or 24% of the population, from 1990 to 2011. And 37% of the population is illiterate, which implies that the literate 63% may not possess the higher cognitive skills to adequately address the approaching misery. (Please note that these statistics reflect Sub-Saharan Africa yet are nonrepresentational of Botswana.)

While the population will geometricize primarily within the cities and remain there, it will also expand in somewhat concentric circles from them into the countryside. This metropolitan expansion will cause country villages to become towns and towns cities. Therefore, we must ask what priority, if any, these masses will give to elephants and the ranges they inhabit. That is why it is imperative to purchase land bordering elephant ranges. Such land might be placed in a trust, perhaps an irrevocable trust, for posterity.

Implementation: This is achieved through the cooperation of local real estate professionals motivated by commissions to find land on the market that borders elephant ranges. As a firm policy, after performing “due diligence,” all land must be thoroughly inspected first-hand on the ground and “walked” by an ElephantRescue.Net representative before a transaction can be approved.


IV – Investigations

We will lead investigations. They will be cost-effective, comprehensive, and productive.

Implementation: Confidential.


V – The encouragement and organization of law-abiding, peaceful demonstrations in Southeast Asia, particularly China.

The weakness of awareness campaigns in the Far East, it seems, is that they are often conducted in countries outside Southeast Asia. That presents linguistic, logistic, and cultural challenges, which are difficult to overcome. And, of course, such remotely managed campaigns are expensive.

Therefore, we want Southeast Asians, especially the Chinese, to lead and manage the ElephantRescue.Net Southeast Asian Campaign rather than attempting to do so from afar. In addition to eliminating linguistics, logistic, and cultural challenges, this method will also eliminate self-reliant criteria, relying upon one’s own opinion that, in this case, is extra-oriental.

Fortunately, there is an organized sect closely attuned to the Asian culture, some of whom we expect to champion our cause: the Buddhists who implore respect for all living things. “Buddha first taught himself to avoid the sin of killing any living creature . . .” And, “I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.”

There are roughly speaking 500 million Buddhists worldwide, and approximately 18 percent of the Chinese population claim Buddhism as their faith or around 250 million people. Should only a tiny fraction of the people represented by these vast numbers join our demonstrations, we might, over time, realize a shift toward societal intolerance of ivory.

As mentioned earlier in this plan, it is paramount that all demonstrations we organize (or in which we participate) be thoroughly peaceful, conducted according to law, and coordinated with local law enforcement officials and officers. We must always be respectful, fully cooperative, and courteous to them. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, participants must behave as ladies and gentlemen at all times.

Implementation: Most of the preparations for our peaceful demonstrations will be the work of local volunteers. Yet, ElephantRescue.Net may help with

1. promotion,
2. printed material such as maps, signs, and banners,
3. translated correspondence to participants and local officials and
4. instructions.



Our plan to save the African Elephant is bold, challenging, and long-range. So, naturally, our vision extends decades into the future, for the scope and scale of this enterprise requires such visionary and futuristic thinking.

However, some might give up hope and capitulate as we consider the United Nations foreboding predictions of 4.2 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2100, for that demographic juggernaut poses a forthcoming threat more ominous than hunting, poaching, or trafficking. Remember, Earth’s population was only 4 billion in 1974; now, an entire world exceeding the population of 1974 will live among the elephant ranges we seek to protect. Such environmental conundrums inspired me to write The Hathaway Equation, the Plan to Halt and Reverse Ecological Collapse. I believe it is the highest and best solution to protect African elephants from future unprecedented human encroachment. Furthermore, it simultaneously raises the living standard of people who live in Sub-Saharan Africa as well.

Nonetheless, man’s intrusion into elephant ranges is a present danger, as well as hunting, poaching, and trafficking. Thus, we must remain keenly aware of and proactively confront imminent as well as long-term threats.

Finally, the operational implementation of this plan rests solely upon our fundraising skills. Therefore, they are as vital as tactical action taken on the ground. So, we are deeply grateful for the generosity of those who help us save the African elephant. We heartily thank you!