Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Samples "African Ivory"

This week our guest blogger is Scott Lajoie, who has substituted for me before as editor of Cape Cod Magazine. Now a writer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, Scott is writing about songs addressing animal welfare issues of today. 

The 90s alternative jam reggae band The Samples, a long-time fave of mine (in fact, I mentioned them the last time I guest-blogged), produced a lot of songs with socially conscious lyrics about the environment. I read them now and they sound a little corny:
Nature, it's all around me
Nature is so astounding
Puts me on a beach
Swims beneath the sea
It's never out of reach
It's even you and me
In the last two months, however, the song “African Ivory” has become very real to me, especially the two lines, There's a rhinoceros horn on our big TV and There's an elephant tusk on our big TV.
These lines address two of the worst products of wildlife trafficking, rhino horn and elephant ivory, both of which are horrendously sawed off the face of these charismatic megafauna after they are poached. Tusk and horn are not like wool or discarded antlers, folks; the elephants and rhinos must be killed to harvest it.

Along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales, wildlife crime—which includes a whole host of wildlife “derivatives” too numerous to mention—ranks among the most serious, dangerous, and damaging of international crimes, worth an estimated US $19 billion per year as noted in IFAW’s  “Criminal Nature – The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”

As I write this on Monday, we at IFAW are lauding the ivory crush in Guangzhou, China. For those of you who are not familiar with a crush, it is a symbolic gesture on the part of a government to pulverize ivory. By doing so, it brings exposure to the poaching of elephants, the illegal trafficking of material across borders, and the conflicted morality of purchasing and even owning ivory. (For a very personal account of the latter, read True Blood actress Kristin Bauer’s blog on the topic.)

IFAW works everyday to address the myriad issues related to this often overlooked type of crime. It’s rarely on your “big TV.”

Band leader and song writer Sean Kelly posted a video for an acoustic version recently with a note:
Published on Jan 15, 2013:

In the mid eighties I saw a documentary on the severity of the poaching of Elephants for their ivory tusks and Rhinoceros for their horns. I had a helpless and nauseous feeling in my stomach and soul.
All this information was coming through my TV set. I wrote this song back in 1988 or 89 and as you can see from this article, sadly nothing has changed in regard to the sadistic need for a frickin bone!!!!


The version I post here is of the original.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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