Category Archives: Key Articles

Talking Truth To Power

Keynote address of Godfrey Harris To a conservation workshop of the IWMC World Conservation Trust

July 31, 2017


Mr. Minister, M. LaPointe, distinguished representatives of the Southern African Development Community (Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) interested guests: Know first that I am immensely honored by the invitation of the IWMC World Conservation Trust to share my ideas on the future of ivory and how this can be linked to worldwide attitudes toward Africa’s wildlife.

Note also that these ideas are rooted in an absolute abhorrence of the evils of poaching as well as a total rejection of the notion that all flora and fauna deserve to exist without human interference. Managed conservation means doing the hard work to balance the interests of man with the well being of the plants and animals that live among us. That’s why we are here.

Third preliminary note: Although my professional training is that of a diplomat, my daily activities are heavily involved with domestic and international politics. As you know, this is a tough arena in which to compete, primarily because it is occupied by the big guys who play for big prizes. For too long, though, those of us who understand and favor sustainable conservation techniques have been much too patient, much too polite, and much too diffident — in a word, much too diplomatic — in articulating our views and in expressing our disagreements with the major animal interventionist groups.

My hope is that right here, right now, we agree to talk the unvarnished truth directly and relentlessly to those among the animal rights groups who spend big money telling the world what is best for the people and wildlife of Africa. But in order for the rich and powerful from these animal rights groups to hear the truth from us — and in order for the public to accept it — requires a major change in the terms of the debate. We have to put those who oppose us on the defensive, starting right here and right now.

Straight talk about wildlife and human life in Africa can be our unique political contribution to the dominant social and economic trend of the 21st century. As you know, that trend is to be unapologetically disruptive of the status quo. The more, the better. We need to startle the American animal rights elites and their governmental and international supporters in the same way that Donald Trump uses TWEETS to break through what he sees as media barriers to reach his core supporters. Note these major disruptions in the social and economic order in the last few years:

Uber has become the world’s largest taxi company despite the fact that it owns no vehicles; Facebook is the world’ most popular media company but creates no content; Alibaba is the most valuable retailer in the world but owns no products; Airbnb has over 3,000,000 lodging listed in 65,000 cities in 191 countries — by far the world’s largest accommodation provider — and owns no hotels.

The disruption in politics at the outset of the 21st century is no less startling. The vote in the UK for BREXIT and the election of Donald Trump in the United States were the unmistakable expression of the unhappiness of voters with how governments now conduct the public’s business. The world’s democracies are no longer perceived by their citizens as instruments of, by, and for the people’s benefit.

Instead, governments are now seen by most citizens as vehicles to serve big business, big associations, big universities, big labor, and big nonprofits that employ career technocrats and an army of lawyers to ensure that their interests and their needs are met first.

I call this particular phenomenon of the 21st century, LOBBYCRATIC GOVERNANCE — the worldwide control of the major democracies by senior civil servants working with the staffs of large institutions to manage the levers of power through elected officials who serve as their enablers. Elections today are more like the shadows in kabuki theatre. The policies that emerge after the votes are counted are likely to turn out to be the same whether the Party of Tweedle Dee or the Party of Tweedle Dum wins. Why? Because career civil servants and their lawyers working with professional lobbyists have no intention of loosening their firm grip on the mechanisms of government.

Look at the field of conservation. The bureaucrats and the lobbyists from the big organizations control both public attitudes and government policy. Think about it! Dan Ashe, an obscure technocrat working in the back offices of the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representative starts working closely with representatives from the big animal rights groups. Eventually he leaves the legislative side of the U.S. government for its executive branch where he becomes head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the explicit blessing of the big animal rights groups.

After years of supporting the interests of these groups within and through the U.S. government, he has been rewarded with a three-fold increase in salary — from $140,000 per year to $540,000 — as the new President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. As of January 1, 2017, Ashe becomes a big time lobbyist seeking government support for the organization’s interests and doling out political contributions in return. Mr. Ashe, who had a big say in the decisions and public perceptions of CoP17, indicates that he expects to exercise similar power over CoP18 in Colombo. Tweedle dee, Tweedle dum.

Until we break through this revolving door of power sharing among the Western conservation elites, we will continue to cry wolf to a world that won’t hear us, won’t pay attention to us, and won’t care about us. Interventionist groups are really in the business of raising money to sustain their power and nothing raises money as effectively as the suffering of animals at the hands of sinister criminals and those who are seen to support their nefarious activities.

  • Culling deer overrunning homes in the U.S. northeast is forbidden because no one wants to shoot Bambi or his mother. But someone needs to start talking about the human deaths that will occur from the 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease caused by the ticks these deer carry. We ought to be that megaphone.
  • Wild mustang horses in the U.S. west have overwhelmed their ranges. Now it is costing $49 million a year to buy sufficient feed so these horses won’t starve. But no one is allowed to cull the herds because of Black Beauty. How else could that money be spent for the benefit of the people of the United States? We need to tell that story.

It takes brave souls to swim against the tide — whether in the U.S., the U.K., or Africa. To make a difference, we have to be disruptive, we need to become the Uber of the conservation movement. To do so, we have to recognize what a famous baseball manager said years ago:


We have been too nice for too long. To finish in front — to WIN — requires a new disruptive direction. Getting started in this new direction reminds me of the story of the pastor who bought a mule to help him make the rounds of his parish. The problem was that once he took possession of the mule, the mule refused to move.

A farmer happens to see the stubborn animal willfully ignoring the pastor. Without a word, the farmer picks up a tree branch and approaches the mule. He is about to whack the mule on the side the head when the pastor says, “Wait. How will hitting the mule get it to do what I want?” “It won’t” admitted the farmer, “but first you have to get its attention before you can give it instructions.”

That is exactly what we have to do — we have to whack the world hard enough to get it’s attention. Once we have it, our ideas for change and improvement in the treatment of wildlife and human life will have the audience it needs.

How do you “hit” most of the animal rights groups, their enablers in Western governments, and the big international organizations hard enough to get their attention? In my view, you challenge their righteously adopted, smugly held, elitist attitudes of knowing exactly what is best for Africa’s wildlife and Africa’s future.

We could start by ridiculing their insistence that they can defy the laws of economics. They can’t, no matter how much money they throw at the problem from their patios in the Hollywood Hills, their balconies overlooking Fifth Avenue and their sitting rooms in Mayfair. By continually insisting that poaching will stop when the profits from ivory are eliminated, they are forgetting the immutable fact that prices increase when supply decreases. Choking off trade in ivory will only make it more valuable, enhancing the potential profits from poaching. By increasing the price of ivory through their misguided and unworkable proposed ban, these economic dimwits actually make the poaching problem worse.

We know this. But we never say it forcefully or loudly enough. We tend to make the point as if we were teaching economic theory in a university classroom in Cape Town — politely, reasonably, quietly. Why shout about something so obvious? Well, we forget that the do-gooders in Los Angeles, New York, and London tend to react viscerally rather than intellectually to facts. Economic arguments are boring compared to emotional stories. Fancy words versus gripping pictures. No contest. People who skip the book to wait for the movie tend to rearrange their prejudices rather than think afresh when new evidence arises.

We need to change this dynamic. We have to point out to most of these deaf and dumb Neanderthals that the methods used by the U.S. establishment to control illegal activities in the past have been blatant failures.

  • Take the failure of prohibition. Did the absolute ban on liquor imports into the United States stop alcohol consumption in the 1920s? No. Consumption increased and the U.S. got organized crime, corrupt police, and disrespect for the law as a result.
  • Did the U.S. deal with illegal drugs pouring into the country in the 1980s and ’90s any more successfully? No. It did exactly the same thing: It said it had zero tolerance for illegal substances, it threw military weapons at the problem, and it filled its jails with low-level dealers. Did drug use decrease? Just the opposite. The U.S. had a crack cocain problem that has given way to a horrific opioid epidemic — more than 50,000 overdose deaths a year. As always, the U.S. sees the problem as a supply issue that military measures can solve with bombs, troops and technology. It hasn’t worked because domestic demand for drugs — note the legalization of marijuana in so many U.S. jurisdictions — remains strong.
  • How then does the Trump Administration propose to deal with illegal immigrants? Same way. Provide more technology in the form of drones, radars and sensors, hire thousands of additional border agents, and build a great wall to block people crossing the nation’s southern border. Will it work? Of course not. How tough is it to bribe a guard to look the other way or patrol another sector when the group you are shepherding — at $4,000 a head — is crossing? How hard is it to build a taller ladder to get over a steeper wall, dig a tunnel deep enough to get under any foundation, go to northwestern Canada and walk into Alaska through an open border? If you don’t deal with demand, supply continues. As Albert Einstein is reported to have said:

Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

To get the world to see the insanity promoted by most of the animal rights groups, we need to hit the mule — those self-certain do-gooders sitting around their la-di-da patios, balconies, and sitting rooms — up the side of the head. We need to do this by relentlessly labeling them, as Trump incessantly talked about CROOKED HILLARY and CRAZY BERNIE, for what they are and yet most abhor:


Tell me how what the big animal rights groups and their kept governments want is any different from what Livingston, Rhodes, Bismark or Leopold wanted? Tell me how these groups differ in attitude to the 19th century white men who brought, unbidden, Civilization, Christianity and Commerce to Africa? Tell me how Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States differs from Napoleon III’s prime minister, Jules Ferry, who said:

The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races.

Tell me why today’s racists know more about what is better for the people of Africa than the people of Africa know themselves. They don’t, but we are keeping this as much of a secret as the Manhattan Project’s atomic bomb. You need to remind Americans to fix their own wildlife issues before telling Africa what to do about theirs.

Labeling these mostly American, affluent, educated, younger, urban crazies as RACISTS must be done by Africans to fundamentally change the debate. I can’t and my organization can’t. These liberals, so good at spending other people’s money and forcing change on someone else’s way of life, will writhe in agony at the thought that they, of all people, are being called racists by those they only want to help. To prove they aren’t as racist as any greedy, 19th century European, they need to tell the people of Africa why they alone can repeal the laws of economics, why their views on preserving wildlife should ignore the devastation suffered by humans who live among them, why sustained conservation measures shouldn’t be adopted as the standard for wildlife and habitat preservation.

We need to provide the media with footage of the destruction that wildlife causes in the bush to balance the havoc that poachers cause to elephants or rhinos; we need to show the anguish of burying a child killed by a wild animal to counter the images of hunters posing with their trophies; we need to portray the utter devastation of losing a home, a crop, or even a goat, because of the mindless policies promoted by CITES, its member governments, and the animal interventionist groups that control them. Those who live in Africa can gather that footage and those of us from the West can publicize it.

To start down this new path, I hope this meeting gives the world the DECLARATION OF WINDHOEK. May I suggest some wording for your review:

The People of Africa cherish their land and the resources it yields. It not only provided the nourishment to allow mankind to populate the world millions of years ago, but it continues to provide sustenance for those who live here and contribute to man’s progress. Finding the balance to sustain all of Africa’s resources is Africa’s responsibility.

The delegates representing the member countries of the Southern African Development Community declare that Africa is capable of finding that balance on its own, in its best interests, on behalf of the people who live on this continent, and for the ultimate benefit of the world.

Done at Windhoek, Namibia, on July 31, 2017

But issuing a Declaration provides only a stirring beginning, not the beneficial end we seek. That end is the culmination of what we have discussed here today:


The Declaration of Windhoek now needs a plan of action, a means to fund that action, and a timetable for its success. I hope this meeting and those to follow can build this framework. I pledge the Ivory Education Institute will do its part in creating that framework.


About Godfrey Harris:
Godfrey Harris is a a public policy consultant in Los Angeles. He serves as managing director of the Ivory Education Institute.

Dr. Dolittle VS. Ringling Bros.

By: Godfrey Harris

The chutzpah of Chris DeRose is breathtaking. He purports to know that animals hate the “demeaning and unnatural tricks” they were forced to perform in Ringling Bros. circus. He asserts that certain behaviors — “swaying” — reflect deep psychological stress. He abhors the fact that animals are used for “human amusement.” He is sure that animals suffer, like humans, when they “never know freedom.” Just when did this real-life Dr. Doolittle learn all of this from the animals?
Might some animals actually enjoy what they do because they crave the rewards that come with their work for humans? Will Mr. DeRose next campaign to end dog shows, abolish guide dogs, terminate K-Nine units, and stop animal caregiving?
Rather than pass more restrictive laws based on the arrogance of zealots who know what animals want, we should remember the importance of our cultural heritage to the future.


About Godfrey Harris:
Godfrey Harris is a a public policy consultant in Los Angeles. He serves as managing director of the Ivory Education Institute. The above letter appeared in the Opinion Section of The Los Angeles Times on May 20, 2017 . This letter was in response to an article written by Mr. Chris Depose that appeared in the same paper on May 17, 2017 (see below).

The demise of Ringling Bros. is a victory for the animal rights movement

By: Chris DeRose

On Sunday, May 21, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its final “greatest show on earth,” at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. For the last time, Ringling’s lions, tigers, camels and other captive animals will enter the ring and be forced to perform demeaning and unnatural tricks. It’s a momentous occasion that took the animal rights movement more than three decades to achieve.

I personally led some of the earliest rallies outside Ringling Bros. shows, back in the late 1980s. As the outcry from activists and advocacy groups grew, Ringling willfully ignored it. Instead of switching exclusively to human performers — who perform by choice rather than force — the 146-year-old institution continued to bully animals. This was its downfall.

The reason is simple: When it comes to animal rights, the tide of public opinion has turned. A 2015 Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans — 62% — believe that animals deserve protection, and 32% believe animals should have the same rights as people. In recent years, many businesses have been forced to change their practices. SeaWorld announced it would end its orca breeding program last March, and the state of California outlawed such programs a few months later. Several years ago, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants, and the city of West Hollywood banned the sale of fur products. Many pet stores have stopped selling dogs from puppy mills.

Life for these animals is one of isolation, boredom and trauma.

But while the end of Ringling is a victory for every activist who wrote a letter, signed a petition or protested outside the circus doors, the fight to free animals from cruelty, including in the entertainment industry, is far from over. Other circuses continue to exploit animals for profit, as do zoos, aquariums and rodeos.

For instance, in 2002, an investigator for my organization, Last Chance for Animals, captured footage of elephant training at the Carson & Barnes Circus in Oklahoma. The video showed violent training methods in which elephants were abused with bullhooks, electric prods and blowtorches. At one point, a trainer yelled, “Make ’em scream!” The footage shook the circus industry to its core. Yet the Carson & Barnes Circus still features animal performers.

The simple truth is that animals should not be used for human amusement. The process often is unnatural and cruel from start to finish. Many are taken from the wild as babies and watch as their parents are slaughtered. Others are born in breeding facilities and never know freedom. Life for these animals is one of isolation, boredom and trauma — this is why they so often exhibit abnormal behaviors, such as pulling out their own fur, incessant swaying and bar biting.

As we have seen with the demise of Ringling, the power of sustained activism is strong, but legislation could help hasten and strengthen this hard-won progress. In March, federal legislation was introduced into the House to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses and exhibitions, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act. We urge Congress to pass it. In April, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to draft a ban on the use of animals for circuses and other live shows, including private parties. We urge the council to write a final version of the bill and enact it.

It took more than three decades for the animal rights movement to put an end to the cruelty Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus inflicted on animals. It shouldn’t take another three decades to eliminate similar animal mistreatment elsewhere.

About Chris DeRose:
Chris DeRose is president and founder of Last Chance for Animals (@LC4A), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation.


Keep Your Hands Off Africa!

Ron Thomson was deeply involved in the management of both Hwange and Gonarezhou National Parks in Zimbabwe. He is the author of many books on conservation in Africa (  He is an expert who has lived and managed wildlife. Listen to his words about elephant populations in southern Africa, the animal rights groups, and the attitude of American government agencies toward the environmental and conservation problems that Africa is experiencing.

Godfrey Harris
Managing Director
Ivory Education Institute


As someone whose passion is wildlife management – and who has a special interest in elephants and rhinos  – whose belief it is that maintaining biological diversity is the ULTIMATE and singlemost important goal of living resource management in a national park, I have to tell you that ALL our southern African national parks are horrifically overstocked with elephants – and that the elephants are busy turning their habitats into deserts.

In 1960 it was agreed by the National Parks Board of that time, that the Hwange National Park’s elephant stocking rate was no more than one elephant per two square miles (I still believe that is about right); and Hwange National Park is 5000 square miles in extent.  Between 1960 and 1964, therefore, I was involved in trying to reduce the elephant population of Hwange from (then) 3500 to 2500 – by shooting every elephant that crossed the park boundary into the tribal lands beyond.  Tim Braybrook and I shot hundreds of elephants during that period, but we  never achieved our objective because elephants were all the time invading Hwange from Botswana – attracted by the 60 boreholed game water supplies we provided for our game in Hwange during that same period of time.  And, in those days even, the elephants of Hwange were already rendering extinct several species of trees in the Hwange habitats.

Nevertheless, in 1960, lets say the ‘desired’ number of elephants for Hwange was 2500.  Compare that to the numbers today: over 50 000.  That means Hwange is currently overstocked with elephants by 2000 percent!  The Gonarezhou is now carrying 11 000 elephants – and the habitats have been trashed.  The 2000 sq mile Gonarezhou should be carrying  no more than 1000 elephants.  So the Gonarezhou is over 1000 percent overstocked.  Kruger should be carrying no more than 4000 elephants; it is currently carrying between 16 000 and 20 000 (depending on whose elephant assessment  you believe).  So Kruger is 400 to 500 percent over stocked.  Botswana is now carrying in excess of 200 000 elephants; yet in 1960, when irreparable habitat damage was first reported from Chobe National Park, the comparable count was (about) 7 500.  So Botswana is carrying, arguably, 27 times as many elephants as it should – and its other wild animal species populations have crashed by up to 60 percent (so far); in some cases by as much as 90 percent.  If you care to look at the situation in Namibia you will find the the same kind of elephant overpopulation situation exists there, too.

So where do these damned First World animal rightists get their propaganda figures from?  And why is the IUCN et al, not more concerned about elephant habitat damage than they are concerned about elephant numbers?  You NEVER hear IUCN so-called “experts” talking about the state of the habitats.  They only express positive comments when elephant count numbers are UP; and dismal forebodings (about extinction) when numbers are DOWN.  The IUCN is worse than the animal rightists!  Elephant population numbers and the health of elephant habitats go hand in hand.  They should be considered as one entity.  Don’t these people understand ANYTHING about the principles and practices of wildlife management? The world has gone crazy with its concern about the predictions of elephant extinctions contained in the animal rightists’ false propaganda. Do the figures I have quoted give you any reason to believe that the elephant, as a species, is facing extinction?  Nothing could be further from the truth.   Yet in America – from Barack Obama’s office down through the governments various administrations – everybody is going cuckoo over the possibility.  Aren’t the people of America normal, thinking and intelligent people?  Don’t they understand that the animal rights movement is a confidence industry.  The purpose of them propagating such disinformation is to make money – vast amounts of money – from the gullible public.

And all these people are now telling Africa HOW it should manage its wildlife.  That idea is preposterous!  These people should keep their hands off Africa!

Ron Thomson

Opposition to Revisions to Rule 4(d)

50 CFR Part 17

The Fish and Wildlife Service includes the following statement in reviewing the regulatory background revising the rule for the African elephant:

“In November 2013, the Service destroyed nearly six tons of contraband African and Asian elephant ivory that had been either seized at U.S. ports or as part of law enforcement investigations over the past 25 years for violation of wildlife laws.”

Nowhere in the long preamble to the proposed rule change has the Service offered any evidence that the ivory crushed had been tested or professionally examined to determine that all six tons destroyed were, in fact, African elephant ivory (Loxodonta Africana). Does the Service really pretend that no legal ivory from walruses, boars, warthogs, mammoths or mastodons had been confiscated in the 25 years?
Put another way, how can the Service be trusted to …………… READ FULL ARTICLE

Letter to the Governor

Hon. Jerry Brown
Governor of lhe Slate of Califom1a
State Cap.tol
Sacramento, CA 95814

September 15, 2015

Dear Jerry:

When you were first running for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College Board, your Dad asked me to see what I could do to help you. I soon learned that I couldn’t do much because you had the campaign well in hand. I remember telling your Dad that you were busy learning what worked for you personally in a political sense and that it was best that you did that on your own and without any consultant Interference.

Your Dad and I began working together after his appointment to the Board of Investors Overseas Services. I remember taking him to Chile to meet the President and driving him to visit the Nixon Presidential Library. I captured part of that Chilean trip 1n a few paragraphs from a new book I have written on political euphemisms.

One of the first times I heard an original euphemism was on an airplane from Los Angles to Santiago, Chile. I was accompanying former California Governor Edmund C. (Pat) Brown to a meeting with Chilean President Eduardo Frei to discuss potential investments in the latter’s country. About two hours into the flight, Pat got up from his seat and announced: “I gotta go to cast a vote for Ronald Reagan.” Brown was dearly about to visit the airplane’s restroom.

But in using a colorful euphemism to mask the reality of his intended action, he was also making a
political statement about the events of 1966. That was the year Ronald Reagan — a mere Hollywood actor with no experience in public office or in major electoral politics — soundly defeated Brown in the latter’s bid for a third term. Pat was smarting because he had handily beaten Richard Nixon, a major national political figure, in California‘s 1962 gubernatorial election. Nixon had been US Vice President in the Eisenhower Administration and had barely lost to John F. Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential race. It was in fact, after that 1962 California election defeat by Brown that Nixon had famously, petulantly and, as it turned out, incorrectly told the press that he was leaving politics and that they wouldn’t have “Nixon to kick around anymore.”

The visit to Yorba Linda 1s memorialized in the accompanying collage containing a photo of your Dad and me and his kind thank you note.

All of this is background to my concerns about AB 96, an act that allegedly protects elephants but will do nothing of the kind. Instead, it kills a segment of California’s economy and discourages collectors without any actual evidence that it will save one elephant. My format statement of opposition is contained in the attached separate memo of Ivory Education Institute. This letter is a personal plea for you to do what you have always done so well: Put the anticipated, political, comfortable and often easiest course of action aside to consider alternative, politically tougher solutions that harbor a better chance of doing more good for the greatest number of people. Why not involve the Department of Fish and Wildlife, knowledgeable specialists in the State, and thoughtful members of the legislature 1n formulating a California-centric plan of action that has a chance of actually protecting endangered elephants. providing a reliable means of distinguishing the age and among the types of ivory and ivory substitutes, and addressing new measures to control the demand for ivory In est Asia.


Godfrey (Jeff) Harris
Harris / Ragan Management Group