SOURCE: Firefly Books Ltd.

Firefly Books Ltd.

October 09, 2013 14:00 ET

Firefly Books Releases Ivory, Horn & Blood

Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 09, 2013) - In 1989, after a decade of slaughter that saw one-half of all African elephants killed by poachers, the international community issued a worldwide ban on ivory trading. In 1997, just as elephant recoveries were gaining momentum, the ban was relaxed. Then in 2008, China won the right to import ivory legally from four designated countries in southern Africa. China soon became the world's leading destination for smuggled ivory. At the same time, an upsurge of interest in rhino horn from a newly affluent Vietnam threatened the last of the world's rhinos.

"Today we face a new and even more urgent crisis. The global ivory trade is back with a vengeance," says Ronald Orenstein, a veteran of the fight to stop poaching and to save the world's elephants and rhinoceroses. It is headline news. Ruthless militias from the Lord's Resistance Army to Al-Shabaab buy their weapons with the proceeds of "blood ivory". Organized crime syndicates control the movement of ivory and rhino horn from Africa to Asia. World leaders including Ban Ki-Moon and Barack Obama have condemned the trade as a threat not just to wildlife, but to global security.

In Ivory, Horn & Blood (October 2013, $29.95 hardcover) Ronald Orenstein exposes the poaching crisis for what it is: a brutal slaughter of animals and people that will end only when there are no more elephants and rhinoceroses, or when the world makes serious efforts to rein in an-out-of-control demand for ivory and horn.

Elephants are in "free-fall", as well-documented statistics reveal:

  • Ten years ago, 4 out of every 10 African elephants that died were killed by poachers. Today, that figure is 8 out of every 10.
  • Sixty percent of Africa's Forest Elephants, amounting to tens of thousands of animals, have been slaughtered in the last decade.

Rhinoceroses are also being slaughtered throughout their ranges, in the mistaken belief, among others, that the horns cure cancer. In South Africa, home to 80% of the world's surviving rhinos, rhino poaching has soared to feed demand by the newly affluent markets in Vietnam and elsewhere. Driven by this growing market in the Far East, horn prices now rival those for cocaine.

In South Africa, "proxy hunters" with legal permits have acted as fronts for poaching syndicates. Kruger National Park has been invaded by poachers from neighboring Mozambique. South Africa's poaching toll has soared from no more than 36 per year between 1990 to 2007 to a "horrifying" 668 in 2012. Over 500 more were killed in the first half of 2013.

The situation is dire:

  • The Vietnamese one-horned rhinoceros is extinct
  • The Western black rhino is now believed to be extinct
  • The Northern white rhinoceros, the largest of them all, only survives -- just barely -- in captivity.

Internal wars in Africa and increasing worldwide demand fuel the poaching crisis. Lawlessness, political instability, lack of resources, easy access to weapons and dire poverty all play a part. Poachers have moved from hunting with snares and spears to automatic weapons, and sophisticated "quiet killing" techniques using immobilizing drugs, poison, crossbows and silencers. Roving gangs move about with impunity. Anti-poaching squads, though prepared and sometimes permitted to shoot to kill, are at constant risk. Victories are rare and increasingly massive ivory shipment seizures probably represent only a fraction of what is getting through. Tonnes of contraband ivory have been found in shipping containers, as cleverly hidden as any illegal drug.

It is "a full-scale war," says Orenstein. "For the worst possible reasons, elephants and rhinoceroses are front-page news today. They have become poster children for the worst excesses of organized wildlife crime."

In Ivory, Horn & Blood, Orenstein traces the past 40 years of the compelling history of the trade bans, as much a series of international political debates as a battle to save living creatures, and explains why new calls for legal trade in both ivory and horn may make matters worse.

He explains how the trade in elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns, though happening thousands of miles away in countries that few will visit, has far-reaching implications not only for the animals but also for us.

"We are fighting, too, for people," Orenstein warns, "Over the past ten years more than 700 rangers have been killed by poachers in Africa and Asia... As long as organized criminal gangs, and vicious, power-hungry militias are able to feed off the profits of the trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn, people, as well as animals, will suffer and die, caught in the cross-fire of an undeclared war."

The future is not without hope. Range countries continue to bolster their antipoaching efforts. Buyer attitudes may be changing, albeit slowly. Celebrities, who may have more impact than any government edict, have taken up the cause, including acclaimed Chinese basketball player Yao Ming.

The stakes could not be higher. "The title of this book is Ivory, Horn & Blood," Orenstein reminds readers. "Let us never forget, as we think of the magnificent animals that are the victims of this evil trade, that much of that blood is human."

About the author:

Ronald Orenstein is a zoologist, lawyer and wildlife conservation who has written extensively on a wide range of natural history issues. His most recent book is Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins: A Natural History (Firefly Books, 2012). He is a member of the board of the Species Survival Network (SSN) and the Elephant Research Foundation

With a Foreword by Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, one of the world's foremost authorities on the African elephant. He pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior, in Tanzania, at age 23. He founded Save the Elephants in 1993, and was awarded the illustrious Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Title: Ivory, Horn & Blood: Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis

Author: Ronald Orenstein

Foreword: Iain Douglas-Hamilton

Pub date: October 2013

Format: plastic-laminated hardcover

Price: $29.95 / 216 pages / 6 x 9 / 32 pages in color / sources / index


Available at bookstores, online booksellers or

Firefly Books Ltd., established in 1977, is a North American publisher of non-fiction and distributor of non-fiction and children's books. Firefly's goal is to bring readers beautifully produced books written by experts at reasonable prices.

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