Elephants and Ethics: Toward a Morality of Coexistence

Overview

The entwined history of humans and elephants is fascinating but often sad. People have used elephants as beasts of burden and war machines, slaughtered them for their ivory, exterminated them as threats to people and ecosystems, turned them into objects of entertainment at circuses, employed them as both curiosities and conservation ambassadors in zoos, and deified and honored them in religious rites. How have such actions affected these pachyderms? What ethical and moral imperatives should humans follow to ...

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Overview

The entwined history of humans and elephants is fascinating but often sad. People have used elephants as beasts of burden and war machines, slaughtered them for their ivory, exterminated them as threats to people and ecosystems, turned them into objects of entertainment at circuses, employed them as both curiosities and conservation ambassadors in zoos, and deified and honored them in religious rites. How have such actions affected these pachyderms? What ethical and moral imperatives should humans follow to ensure that elephants are treated with dignity and saved from extinction?

In Elephants and Ethics, Christen Wemmer and Catherine A. Christen assemble an international cohort of experts to review the history of human-elephant relations, discuss current issues of vital concern to elephant welfare, and assess the prospects for the ethical coexistence of both species.

Part I provides an overview of the vexatious human-elephant relationship, from the history of our interactions to understanding elephant intelligence and sense of self. It concludes with a discussion of the issues of stress, pain, and suffering as experienced by elephants in human care and the problems inherent in assessing these subjectively.

The second part explores how humans use elephants as tools and entertainment. It reviews domestic uses in Asia, examines the history and roles of elephants in zoos and circuses, and discusses the methods and ethics of training and caring for captive elephants.

In Part III the contributors examine the fragile and conflict-filled world of human-elephant interactions in the wild. Each chapter delves into a different angle of the "elephant problem"— the all-too-human problem of our growing populations taking over space that was historically the domain of these pachyderms. The chapters explore attempts to tame and "train" elephants in populous areas, the struggle over balancing species preservation while maintaining biodiversity in protected areas, and the conundrums posed by hunting, tourism, and human-elephant competition on rural land.

That the future health and survival of elephants is dependent on human actions is irrefutable. In addressing these issues from multiple perspectives, Elephants and Ethics promotes mutual understanding of the cultural, conservation, and economic difficulties at the root of the many troublesome human-elephant interactions and poses new questions about our responsibility toward these largest of land mammals.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Mammalia
An important contribution.

— Evelyne Bremond-Hoslet

Midwest Book Review
A fascinating history of human and elephant interactions.
PsycCRITIQUES
[A] fascinating, saddening, but guardedly optimistic book.
Mammalia - Evelyne Bremond-Hoslet
An important contribution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801888182
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2008
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,080,506
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Christen Wemmer is a fellow at the California Academy of Sciences and an emeritus scientist with the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, where he previously served as director of the Conservation and Research Center. Catherine A. Christen, an environmental historian, is an academic training specialist and researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword John Seidensticker Seidensticker, John

1 Introduction Never Forgetting the Importance of Ethical Treatment of Elephants Christen Wemmer Wemmer, Christen Catherine A. Christen Christen, Catherine A. 1

Pt. I Overview of Elephant Philosophy and Science

2 Elephants in Time and Space: Evolution and Ecology Raman Sukumar Sukumar, Raman 17

3 Personhood, Memory, and Elephant Management Gary Varner Varner, Gary 41

4 Elephant Sociality and Complexity: The Scientific Evidence Joyce H. Poole Poole, Joyce H. Cynthia J. Moss Moss, Cynthia J. 69

5 Elephants, Ethics, and History Nigel Rothfels Rothfels, Nigel 101

6 Pain, Stress, and Suffering in Elephants: What Is the Evidence and How Can We Measure It? Janine L. Brown Brown, Janine L. Nadja Wielebnowski Wielebnowski, Nadja Jacob V. Cheeran Cheeran, Jacob V. 121

Pt. II Elephants in the Service of People: Cultural Differences and Ethical Relativity

7 Elephants and People in India: Historical Patterns of Capture and Management Dhriti K. Lahiri Choudhury Choudhury, Dhriti K. Lahiri 149

8 Carrots and Sticks, People and Elephants: Rank, Domination, and Training John Lehnhardt Lehnhardt, John Marie Galloway Galloway, Marie 167

9 Canvas to Concrete: Elephants and the Circus-Zoo Relationship Michael D. Kreger Kreger, Michael D. 185

10 Why Circuses Are Unsuited to Elephants Lori Alward Alward, Lori 205

11 View from the Big Top: Why Elephants Belong in North American Circuses Dennis Schmitt Schmitt, Dennis 227

12 The Challenges of Meeting the Needs of Captive Elephants Jane Garrison Garrison, Jane 237

13 Most Zoos Do Not Deserve Elephants David Hancocks Hancocks, David 259

14 Zoos asResponsible Stewards of Elephants Michael Hutchins Hutchins, Michael Brandie Smith Smith, Brandie Mike Keele Keele, Mike 285

15 Can We Assess the Needs of Elephants in Zoos? Can We Meet the Needs of Elephants in Zoos? Jill D. Mellen Mellen, Jill D. Joseph C. E. Barber Barber, Joseph C. E. Gary W. Miller Miller, Gary W. 307

16 Giants in Chains: History, Biology, and Preservation of Asian Elephants in Captivity Fred Kurt Kurt, Fred Khyne U. Mar Mar, Khyne U. Marion E. Garal Garal, Marion E. 327

Pt. III Elephants and People in Nature: The Ethics of Conflicts and Accommodations

17 Restoring Interdependence Between People and Elephants: A Sri Lankan Case Study Lalith Seneviratne Seneviratne, Lalith Greg D. Rossel Rossel, Greg D. 349

18 Sumatran Elephants in Crisis: Time for Change Susan K. Mikota Mikota, Susan K. Hank Hammatt Hammatt, Hank Yudha Fahrimal Fahrimal, Yudha 361

19 Human-Elephant Conflicts in Africa: Who Has the Right of Way? Winnie Kiiru Kiiru, Winnie 383

20 Playing Elephant God: Ethics of Managing Wild African Elephant Populations Ian Whyte Whyte, Ian Richard Fayrer-Hosken Fayrer-Hosken, Richard 399

21 Toward an Ethic of Intimacy: Touring and Trophy Hunting for Elephants in Africa Rebecca Hardin Hardin, Rebecca 419

22 The Ethics of Global Enforcement: Zimbabwe and the Politics of the Ivory Trade Rosaleen Duffy Duffy, Rosaleen 451

Contributors 469

Index 471

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