Just 2 weeks ago I had the great good fortune of seeing elephants in their natural environment in Samburu and Maasai Mara National Reserves in Kenya. They are truly magnificent and majestic creatures.

Later in the week, I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust orphanage in Nairobi adjacent to Nairobi National Park. The Shedlrick orphanage does incomparable work in rescuing orphaned elephants and returning them to the wild when they are old enough to survive on their own.

Unfortunately, too often their efforts see only tragedy as the elephant they rescued is killed by the same ivory trade responsible for it becoming an orphan in the first place.

Right now, the number of orphans at the Sheldrick facility is at a record high, indicating that poaching is not abating, but on the increase.

That evening, over a few glasses of wine on the patio of Macushla House, I was discussing the problem of ivory poaching with Shelley Waterland of the Born Free Foundation, and Dr. Clay Wilson, wildlife veterinarian and founder of the International Wildlife Rescue. Both of these individuals are on the front line working to end the decimation of elephant herds to ivory poaching.

The solution, they say, is to eliminate the end market for ivory products. The largest markets for ivory are China, Japan and, surprisingly, the Catholic Church!

That’s right — rosary beads made of ivory are much prized by Catholics worldwide. A Catholic myself, I can’t believe that any Catholic would want their prayers heard at the destruction of these beautiful and intelligent creatures of God, as seen in this video!

It would be wonderful if the Sheldrick orphanage was unnecessary, but it will be in business as long as ivory poaching remains a lucrative industry.