vory Elephant statue at the SSKI airport Gaborone Botswana


In his speech, the president of Botswana noted that Botswana alone plays host to a third of the elephant population of Africa. A population so large, its effects lay evident in the diminishing forest lines of the northern border that makes up Botswana’s largest national reserve.

Unfortunately for Botswana, this population of some 200 000 elephants is a sad reflection of what once was a large hive of beasts roaming the east that have fallen prey to poachers who mercilessly kill these gentle beast for their tusks. Now only a few left behind and scarred from their losing battle with mankind, the angry elephants prove to be a dangerous cohabitant for the eastern region resorting to violence whenever they cross paths with man.

In light of this, the country sought to commemorate the deaths of thousands of elephants by creating a 22 tonne ivory display at the international airport, a statue of a life-size baby elephant frozen in motion made entirely out of tasks. Albeit, the tasks of dead elephants reclaimed but tasks all the same.

Personally (as I am highly opinionated), this gesture will open the nation to much debate about what they are saying. In the name of conservation should we really have made a display of the bones of the dead victims of this hate crime? Or, in the name of conservation should the display have been a statue of a man in chains composed of the bones of the criminals behind the crime?

While the later may sound ‘inhuman’ the former may equally be described as being ‘in animal’. This is the act of a nation that just over 10 years ago petitioned to have the display of a woman removed from a museum in Brazil as it was inhuman to have her there for human spectacle. Kind of ironic to then counter it with an act of this sort.

I wonder if showing the world exactly how beautiful an elephant’s task can be as a piece of art such that it may make many want to own an ivory trophy of their own is the ‘right’ thing to do to protect elephants from poachers.

In the end, we are asked to turn a blind eye on what it was made of and not look at it as a piece of art but instead consider it a national stance against poaching.