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Cape Town - A group of bikers led a rather unusual animal rights protest march to Parliament on Friday in a bid to focus attention on increasing elephant poaching.
Passersby watched in amazement as the loud growl of several Harley Davidson motorbikes drowned out the sound of protesters, some dressed as elephants, and others wearing soft toys resembling elephants as makeshift headwear.
“Worldwide an elephant is killed every 15 minutes,” animal rights activist Nikkie Elliot said as she and others waved placards bearing the faces of elephant orphans.
“The rhino are being decimated, the elephants are being decimated, the terrorists' organisations are poaching, and that's where they're getting their money from, from the ivory trade,” she said.
Media reports have suggested the ivory trade helped fund the attack by Al-Shabab on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last month.
Animal rights activists at Friday's protest believed the sale of stockpiled and confiscated ivory from dead elephants was part of the problem.
“So, we have a situation where a small amount of legal ivory injected into the market has provided the means to hide a much larger illegal trade, whose products are being supplied to consumers, who through ignorance, deliberate misinformation, or because they simply don't care, are in no position to question the origin of what they are buying,” African Geographic Magazine editor Sarah Borchert told the crowd.
The protesters believed that while the killing of elephants was more prevalent in Kenya, and there had been reports of elephant poisonings in Zimbabwe, the problem was moving closer to home.
The sentences meted out to poachers was also seen as “absolutely putrid”.
“There needs to be far harsher penalties. It needs to be regarded as a priority crime across the globe with all governments... it's the only way this will stop because nothing else is happening.”
Those buying ivory should also shoulder some of the blame.
“They must know that what they got there are kills... every little trinket that is carved has spilt the blood of an elephant,” Elliot said.