COVID-19 Messed Wildlife

A Johannesburg-based environmental journalist, Emmanuel Koro is writing a new book calling for the need for SADC countries to start international trade in ivory and rhino horn as soon as possible, in order to raise wildlife conservation funds that their COVID-19 pandemic damaged economies can’t raise.

Koro argues in the book that never in the history of planet earth have the African people and their wildlife been both threatened with death, with wildlife coming worse off because humankind naturally has to save itself; then think of wildlife. He observes that the COVID-19 pandemic damaged wildlife-rich African countries while they hardly have enough money to save their own people. This leaves very dark clouds hanging over the survival of African wildlife.

The African economies’ future outlook, including that of African wildlife, have been figuratively reduced to the status of the car with a knocked engine, without fuel, and with flat tyres; needing to be pushed to an uncertain destination. An uncertain destination for African economies inevitably results in an uncertain fate for its people and wildlife, argues Koro.

He observes that like the dodo that lost its flying powers resulting in its extinction, African countries are being progressively disempowered by the Western animal rights groups that block trade in ivory and rhino horn, making them unable raise revenue to save their wildlife from extinction. With the world’s superpower economies having been severely impacted by COVID-19, it’s a foregone conclusion that the vulnerable African economies struggling to find money to save the African people might have nothing left to save their wildlife.

The world shall soon witness this COVID-19 ignited disaster unfold argues Koro, who far from being pessimistic, but is being realistic;

says international ivory and rhino horn trade is the only viable option for wildlife conservation in Africa going forward.

Without resources to save wildlife, African rangers and wildlife managers, along with ministers of environment, parliamentarians and heads of states shall helpless watch their wildlife being wiped by poachers.

Therefore, it is now or never for Africa to start raising wildlife conservation funds through international trade in ivory and rhino horn.

SADC countries, in particular, might never have a stronger, bigger and better argument for ivory and rhino horn international trade resumption than now, in order to raise much-needed revenue to save wildlife.

In fact, Koro realistically predicts in his new book that cash-hungry poaching syndicates emerging from COVID-19 damaged economies worldwide are going to descend on the wildlife-rich African continent to increase their wildlife gunning activities.

Sadly, in sharp contrast, this will coincide with a phase in which COVID-19 damaged African economies will have absolutely no budgets for wildlife conservation. African countries can see this coming. Their wildlife managers know it. They are frustrated and getting increasingly demoralized. They know that it is impossible to protect wildlife from poachers and manage it through the provision of water and food supplies without money.

Currently, African countries are now like broke parents who are desperately searching for coins and other means to save their children – African people from the COVID-19 pandemic. They also don’t have resources for wildlife conservation because their economies are COVID-19 pandemic ruined. Fortunately, in this analogy or figurative expression of a broke parent searching for coins, wildlife-rich African countries have stumbled not on coins but on an untold and untraded wealth of large quantities of ivory and rhino horn, collectively worth trillions of dollars. What a bright moment of hope for wildlife-rich Southern African countries, in particular, to forget about their failed IMF loan applications and trade in what they readily own – ivory and rhino horn.

Sadly, that moment of great hope suddenly dims into the reality that the West currently doesn’t allow Africa to trade in these valuable commodities. There must be a way out for Africa. Where there is a will there is away. Koro argues that there is absolutely nothing to lose but everything to gain from international wild trade. We shall save our wildlife, our people and our economies through international trade in ivory and rhino horn, he argues convincingly.

The writer notes that this is the right time for all forward-thinking and progressive African economists, labour movements, environmentalists, politicians and presidents to come together and rescue their wildlife-rich economies through the sale of their ivory and rhino horn that has been stockpiled and untraded for almost half a century. He notes that it is the economists and financial advisors who tell us that when one is struggling financially, they must sell some of their assets to rescue themselves. One wonders if these wise thoughts collectively escaped the minds of our COVID-19 challenged economists, bankers, politicians, environmentalists and the labour movement that are face with massive COVID-19 pandemic job losses. Now that the debate has been sparked, can we see the action and rapid implementation of a wildlife trade-based rescue of African economies?

Non-violation of international wild trade requirements

Koro notes that with SADC countries having gone on CITES reservations for ivory, rhino horn and giraffe, followed by the UN wildlife trade regulating agency CITES’s acceptance of the reservations,

the time is ripe for SADC countries to form an Ivory and Rhino Horn Trading Body.

They should quickly identify the markets to sell the products. Oil and diamond producing countries have formed trading bodies to sell their commodities without any UN supervision. The UN agency CITES allows SADC countries to form an ivory and rhino horn trading as long as they are on reservations. It was successfully done in South America under the vicuña fur trade. Before 1980, this animal of the camelid family was almost extinct due to overhunting but trade in vicuña wool helped the species’ population to recover across South America’s Andes region. Even CITES’ Chair of Animals Committee, Matthias Löertscher recognizes the vicuña conservation success in a July 2018 International Trade Centre Report entitle Trade-In Vicuña Fibre. The same trade-based elephants and rhino conservation model can be established by wildlife-rich Southern African countries, raising the prospects of trillion-dollar ivory and rhino horn trade.

Accordingly, SADC countries need to quickly organize themselves into an ivory and rhino horn trading body. In fact, they already have a strategy to form this trading body. It was presented to SADC Presidents at the May 2019 Kasane Elephant Summit. Therefore, this is the right time to do it.


The anti-wildlife trade animal rights groups can’t stop it. They recently admitted in the media that they are failing to influence South Africa that has appointed a predominantly pro-sustainable use panel of experts to advise the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries on viable wild trade options. We currently have a good spokesperson in President Ramaphosa who is the current Chairman of the African Union and also fully understands the need for sustainable use of wildlife. SADC is united on the need for sustainable wild trade.

Therefore, everything in our favour to save Africa’s wildlife, people and economies through international in our earth-shattering and dust-gathering trillion-dollar ivory and rhino horn.

As African countries continue to find ways to save themselves and their wildlife from the COVID-19-caused economic mess, maybe the African renaissance spirit now makes more sense and is more urgent.

A rebirth through selling our incredibly large quantities of ivory and rhino horn whose collective trillion-dollar value would save African wildlife, people and economies in ways that even put the IMF out of the money-lending business.

Africa has had political heroes in Kwame Nkrumah the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana and Founder of the Organisation of African Unity and Nelson Mandela the first revolutionary President of South Africa who liberated their countries through unleashing a spirit of political independence. Sadly, the resource-rich but poor continent is still waiting for Africa’s economic saviour. Like it was with political independence, that economic saviour must be African.

It’s not progressive for Africans to maintain the nice guy/nice lady approach to please the anti-wild trade movement, keep quiet and not talk about the need to sell our ivory and rhino horn. Koro says that people who oppose international trade ivory and rhino horn that generates revenue to save African wildlife are more harmful to wildlife than poachers. “They belong to the WEST school of thought that stands for Wildlife Endangering Stupid Thinking (WEST),” writes Koro providing a new and revealing name for the anti-use movement that he views as absolutely harmful to African wildlife.

COVID-19 has almost collapsed African economies, leaving them with literally no extra income for wildlife conservation in the foreseeable future. This means the continent’s wildlife will soon be severely threatened with poaching. Hence the book title, COVID-19 Messed Wildlife. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered Africa’s wildlife conservation mess. However, Koro leaves it up to the readers to decide who or what is more harmful to African wildlife. Is it poachers, the WEST school of thought or COVID-19?

“Trade, not aid will save Africa’s wildlife,” concludes Koro. “Africa must trade in its earth-shattering and dust-gathering trillion-dollar quantities of ivory and rhino horn, including trade in its excessive live elephants and its live rhinos to save its wildlife and economy. It’s now or never.”


Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist, author of the highly recommended book Western Celebration of African Poverty – Animal Rights Versus Human Rights and winner of was awarded the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa prize in November 2019, for International Promotion of The South African Hunting Industry and for contributing and striving towards “upholding the country’s fundamental principles.”


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