Poachers have killed over 100,000 Elephants in three years.
The insatiable demand for ivory is causing a dramatic decline in the number of African elephants. Poachers are hunting the animals faster than they can reproduce.
In the early 1970s, demand for ivory rocketed with 80% of traded raw ivory coming from poached elephants. A ban was put in place in 1989 by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and all international trade was prohibited in an attempt to combat this massive illegal trade.
Major ivory markets were eliminated and some countries in Africa experienced a steep decline in illegal killing allowing some elephant populations to recover. Following a ‘one-off sale’ in 2008, the illegal trade rocketed with 2011 seeing the largest seizures of ivory since records began. Elephant populations declined rapidly as poaching escalated across much of Africa, fueling the black market.
Poachers killed an average of 33,630 elephants every year from 2010 to 2012, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths across the continent, the study found. Illegal killings across Africa decreased somewhat in 2010, but they were still higher than pre-2009 levels, researchers reported. As more elephants are poached, the number of governmental seizures of illegal ivory increase, and the black market price of ivory goes up.
Poaching rates for ivory are unsustainable and exceed the natural growth rate of wild elephants. This means that elephant populations are currently in decline by nearly 60 to 70 percent every 10 years, making it likely for the species to become extinct in the near future if poaching and the illegal ivory trade are not stopped.
By Paul Oxton (Wild Heart)