It is the systematic and calculated industrial slaughter of a species by organised criminals for profit.
In 1989, President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya set fire to 12 tonnes of ivory in protest and the world community banned the international trade in ivory. In the West, consumer demand collapsed; in Japan ivory simply began to go out of fashion.
The killing stopped. 600,000 were left standing.
Elephant populations stabilised and in the absence of an ivory market – in places, began to recover.
In the past 25 years, the world has changed. New aspirational consumer markets have emerged. New political and trading relationships have developed between Africa and the East.
Between 2010 and 2012 more than 100,000 elephants have been killed, wanted only for their tusks, with proceeds often funding organized crime and terrorist groups.
The killing of African elephants for their ivory is devastating a species that’s already losing ground to a growing human population. The National Geographic have published three important maps making clear the extent of the loss so far:
1. Range – showing a dramatic decline between 1979 and 2007 (last major count).
2. Poaching – showing elephant deaths from illegal killing across Africa in 2011.
3. Smuggling – showing destinations of trafficked ivory between 1989 and 2011.
The liquidation of elephants for their ivory can be stopped when we take concrete action to address the drivers of the illegal market:
The Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) is an African-led initiative to build international consensus to close all ivory markets – the existence of which is driving the Crisis today.
- Sir David Attenborough