The amount of money now washing around Asia and the seemingly unquenchable demand there for ivory, particularly in countries such as Vietnam and China, has caused the price charged on the black market to soar. Indeed in many places ivory is now worth more per ounce than gold. The result has been an almost unprecedented slaughter on the savannahs. Some 100 elephants are being killed per day in Africa, and at present rates of poaching the surviving population in the wild risks being decimated within a decade. Chad had 15,000 elephants. Now it is 400.
Experiencing a completely different way of life and culture made me draw comparisons to my own life. Obviously, it highlights issues of materialism and made me really appreciate the significance of family and community. There was only 5,000 people on the island I was working on. They all knew and loved each other and were so welcoming to the volunteers.
Madagascar has many different faces. There's the wealth of biodiversity and endemic species such as the famous lemurs, but then there is also the extreme poverty and political instability. Before I arrived on my volunteering placement, I didn't really know what to expect; I'd never been out of Europe before so everything was a new experience.
Africa's wildlife is what sets the continent apart from the rest of the world. It is their best resource. With many areas tormented by political dispute, poverty and an on-going battle with the demon that is HIV, it seems that the people of Africa need to realise the significance of what remains. So why is it then that they can so easily be seen as passive in its destruction?