Quantcast
Animals

Elephants Being Slaughtered for Ivory Faster Than They Can Reproduce

Despite a decrease in poaching, the overall African elephant population has fallen for the fourth year in a row, according to new data released by the United Nations to mark World Wildlife Day.

Years of unprecedented elephant poaching for ivory have threatened the survival of these gentle giants. As The Guardian reported, elephant poaching peaked in 2011, when it accounted for about 75 percent of all deaths.

The new UN report said that 60 percent of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning that the overall elephant pollution is likely falling. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015.

Roughly 100 African elephants are killed each day, according to 96 Elephants, a campaign ran by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, have decimated elephant populations, leaving only 400,000 remaining compared to 1,200,000 in the 1980s.

“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident,” secretary general of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), John Scanlon, told The Guardian

The 1980s—the heyday for the illegal ivory trade—was disastrous for elephants.  Photo credit: 96 Elephants

According to The Guardian, the new UN report revealed a “troubling” upward trend in elephant poaching in the Kruger national park in South Africa for the first time in 2015. The proportion of elephants killed by poaching jumped from 17 percent in 2014 to 41 percent last year.

“While [this] is still below the sustainability threshold, the substantial increase in what had been one of the most secure sites for elephants in Africa is a cause for concern,” the report said.

In the video below, Scanlon points out that the current wildlife crisis is not a natural phenomenon. Unlike a drought, a flood or a cyclone, wildlife trafficking is a direct result of people’s actions.

"People are the cause of this serious threat to wildlife and people must be the solution, which also requires us to tackle human greed, ignorance and indifference," he says.

The third annual World Wildlife Day is being commemorated globally today to raise awareness around the world's wild animals and plants under the theme "The Future of Wildlife is in our Hands." African and Asian elephants will be a main focus of the day under the theme “The future of elephants is in our hands.”

Read page 1

"Time is running out to end the poaching crisis that threatens some of the world’s most iconic species," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. "To combat poaching and trafficking of protected species it is essential to address both the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products through agreed goals and targets and international instruments, such as [CITES]."

"For too long, the world has been witness to heartbreaking images of the mass slaughter of elephants for their tusks," he continued. "According to CITES, the killing of African elephants and trafficking in their ivory remain alarmingly high. Asian elephants are also subject to growing levels of poaching."

Scanlon told The Guardian that there are some encouraging signs—parts of East Africa, like Kenya, has seen a decline in the poaching trend.

“This is showing us all what is possible through a sustained and collective effort with strong political support,” he said. “The momentum generated over the past few years is translating into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most—from the rangers in the field, to police and customs at ports and across illicit markets.”

In particular, Kenya has introduced a series of recent measures to stop the illegal practice, including electronic tracking devices for rhinos and elephants, The BBC reported. USAID observed that the nation's Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill and Policy of 2013 has effectively increased penalties for poaching and trafficking, and in the first test of the new law, a Chinese man caught with a 7.5 pound elephant tusk was sentenced to pay a 20 million Kenya shilling fine ($230,000) or spend seven years in prison.

Kenya will also host a major global summit on illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking this April. As part of the two-day event, the country will set fire to its massive stockpile of ivory that has an estimated black market price of $270 million.

“Kenya plans to use the occasion to torch as many as 120 tonnes of ivory, the largest stockpile of ivory ever destroyed by any country, as proof of our commitment to zero tolerance for poaching and illegal ivory trade,” Presidential Spokesman Manoah Esipisu told reporters.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

12 Breathtaking Photos of Yellowstone National Park

Scientists Find Answer to Why Thousands of Sea Lion Pups Are Starving

World’s First and Only Sunglasses Made From 100% Reclaimed Fishing Nets

David Suzuki: We Must Save the Honeybees and Here’s How You Can Help

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Freight Farms

Why This Montana Farmer Grows Food Year-Round in Shipping Containers

By Isabelle Morrison

Kim Curren, owner of Shaggy Bear Farm in Bozeman, Montana, has worn many hats. She worked in the solar power industry for 15 years, owned her own café bookstore and worked a stint as a medical case manager. In 2016, Curren decided to try her hand at farming, because why not?

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Sam Murphy

Got Nondairy Alternative Milk?

By Sam Schipani

More and more, ecologically minded milk consumers are turning to nondairy products to minimize their carbon hoofprints. Sales of almond milk shot up by 250 percent between 2011 and 2016. Meanwhile, consumption of dairy milk has plummeted 37 percent since the 1970s, according to the USDA.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
A burger made with a blend of beef and mushrooms. Mushroom Council

'Blended Burger' Allows a Simple Shift to More Sustainable Eating

By Richard Waite, Daniel Vennard and Gerard Pozzi

Burgers are possibly the most ubiquitous meal on Americans' dinner plates, but they're also among the most resource-intensive: Beef accounts for nearly half of the land use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food Americans eat.

Although there's growing interest in plant-based burgers and other alternatives, for the millions of people who still want to order beef, there's a better burger out there: a beef-mushroom blend that maintains, or even enhances, that meaty flavor with significantly less environmental impact.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Old White Truck / Flickr

The Last Straw? EU Official Hints Ban on Single-Use Plastic Across Europe

A top EU official hinted that legislation to cut plastic waste in Europe is coming soon.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, made the comment after Britain's environment minister Michael Gove, a pro-Brexiter, suggested that staying in the EU would make it harder for the UK to create environmental laws such as banning plastic drinking straws.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Flare from gas well. Ken Doerr / Flickr

Court Orders Trump Administration to Enforce Obama-Era Methane Rule

A federal judge reinstated a widely supported methane waste rule that President Trump's administration has repeatedly tried to stop.

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled Thursday that Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to suspend core provisions of the 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was "untethered to evidence."

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
On Jan. 24, 2017 President Donald Trump signed a memorandum to expedite the Keystone XL permitting process. Twitter | Donald Trump

Inside the Trump Admin's Fight to Keep the Keystone XL Approval Process Secret

By Steve Horn

At a Feb. 21 hearing, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the Trump administration must either fork over documents showing how the U.S. Department of State reversed an earlier decision and ultimately came to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or else provide a substantial legal reason for continuing to withhold them. The federal government has an order to deliver the goods, one way or the other, by March 21.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health

New Black Lung Epidemic Emerging in Coal Country

In a study released this month by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), federal researchers identified more than 400 cases of complicated black lung in three clinics in southwestern Virginia between 2013 and 2017—the largest cluster ever reported.

However, the actual number of cases is likely much, much higher as the government analysis relied on self-reporting. An ongoing investigation from NPR has counted nearly 2,000 cases diagnosed since 2010 across Appalachia.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Dennis Schroeder / NREL

The Facts About Trump’s Solar Tariffs – Who Gets Hurt? Who Gets Helped?

By John Rogers

The solar-related shoe we've been expecting has finally dropped: President Trump recently announced new taxes on imported solar cells and modules. There's plenty of downside to his decision, in terms of solar progress, momentum and jobs. But will it revive U.S. manufacturing?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!