The conservation of elephants in Asia and in Africa presents challenges that are central to the broader ecological or social issues in the conservation of landscapes and biodiversity. By saving elephants, we would also conserve a significant proportion of representative landscapes and biodiversity in these two continents. By resolving elephant-human conflicts through the active participation of local communities, we would also be reassuring rural people that they do not have to bear the entire opportunity costs of conservation. The dichotomy in the so-called Northern versus Southern perspectives on conservation or the preservationist versus the utilitarian approaches to conservation is perhaps nowhere as glaring as with elephant conservation. Rigid, dogmatic attitudes at either end of such dichotomies are not necessarily serving the cause of either conservation or of impoverished people. We should recognize that human cultural and value systems are diverse, and that a balanced, pragmatic approach to conservation would be in the best interests of elephants. Only then can we ensure that the living elephants do not follow the path of their Pleistocene relatives.
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