By Megan Vick
You may have recently seen excerpts from Yao Ming’s tour in Africa for WildAid. He went to several areas of Africa to see first-hand what illegal poaching is doing to our rare wildlife. Not only did he see what the rhino-horn trade does, he saw the toll it takes on the elephant population for the illegal ivory trade. As cruel and horrible as these actions against animals are, there is something you can do to help!
Why are Elephants Being Killed?
The short and simple answer is- for ivory. Although the trade of ivory was essentially banned in 1989, ivory is still a hot commodity in China and other parts of Asia as a way of designating status and wealth. Now, as China’s middle class has more discretionary income, ivory is highly sought after. In Beijing, ivory is said to be around $1,000 per pound. Elephant poaching is so severe, many wildlife experts fear for the survival of the species.
How is Coffee Going to Help?
What a great question! Short of throwing boiling hot coffee on to elephant poachers, it doesn’t seem that coffee is a likely accomplice in the protection of elephants. But it is! By purchasing fair trade coffee, you can help ensure the protection of the environment. One of the values of the Fair Trade Federation is to ensure their business practices are “cultivating environmental stewardship.” All decisions are made with the environment in mind and members of the FTF actively engage in sustainable practices.
Since coffee is an important crop in Africa, the farms can often encroach on elephant habitats, leaving them less room to roam, and avoid poachers. Buying certified fair trade coffee helps small farmers and co-ops make money fairly, supports their local economy, and encourages environment and animal protection and conservation.
What Can I Do?
Of course, you shouldn’t buy ivory. Ever. There are also many conservation organizations if you want to get involved. You can also boycott organizations using elephants, like circuses or fairs, or boycott zoos that don’t give elephants sufficient space.
One of the easiest things to do is to buy coffee with the Fair Trade Federation or Fair Trade USA logos on it. Of course, I encourage you to buy as many fair trade products as possible, but coffee seems reasonable enough. If you don’t drink coffee, share this with your friends who do! If no one you know drinks coffee, make sure you try our Vanilla Coffee Face Scrub, made with organic and fair trade coffee.