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Global seizures of illegal ivory suggest that some 25,000 to 50,000 elephants were slaughtered in 2011 alone to furnish demand in major markets around the world.
The message is simple: stop wildlife trafficking.
WOMEN: WHEN ELEPHANTS DREAM SET
And to highlight it, the United States destroyed tons of elephant ivory it has seized over the years — and will pay out $1 million to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Hours before the destruction of the stockpile in Colorado Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the reward money to help dismantle elephant and rhino trafficking syndicates.
It’s the first time the United States has offered such a reward, he said.
The ivory was seized and maintained as evidence until court trials were completed. Once the cases were concluded, some of it was used for training law enforcement officers.
“Over the past 25 years, we have accumulated far more elephant ivory than we can use for these purposes, and decided to destroy this material as a demonstration of our commitment to combating wildlife trafficking,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
“We want to send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and the toll it is taking on elephant populations, particularly in Africa.”
The illegal ivory trade has doubled worldwide since 2007, with the United States the second-largest retail market for illegally acquired ivory. China is the largest market.
MEN: PANTHER INCENSED NECKLACE
An unprecedented demand for ivory today has resulted in the slaughter of elephants throughout their range. It is estimated that 96 elephants were killed in Africa each day during 2012. That translates to four elephants an hour or one elephant every 15 minutes. In scarcely more time than it takes to read this commentary, one more elephant will be dead.
Fueling this devastation are greed for a rare commodity, local poverty and social disorder. Wracked by civil strife, central Africa presently finds itself amidst political chaos that has enabled people to profit from the looting of natural resources, including wildlife. At present rates of decline, forest elephants could go extinct within a decade.
Twenty three years ago, I began studying a population of forest elephants at the Dzanga Bai clearing in the southwest corner of the Central African Republic. Protection for this particular population was probably the best in the entire central Africa region, with regular guard patrols routinely confiscating arms and arresting poachers.
To get to the clearing one must walk a couple of kilometers from the local base camp along huge elephant trails stamped out over hundreds of years. After a half hour’s walk through the forest, the sky lightens as the trees give way to a great clearing. Upon emerging, you may see 40 to 100 elephants at any given time – part of an estimated regional population of roughly 75,000 animals.
Having no nationality, the elephants arrive from across the larger Sangha Tri-National Protected Area, some traveling hundreds of miles. They become very excited when they recognize family members they haven’t encountered for a long time. Elephants can be seen running across the clearing several hundred meters to greet each other in what are visibly emotional encounters.
In March of this year, the Central African Republic’s government was toppled with the help of heavily armed rebels calling themselves Seleka. Since then, Seleka has wreaked havoc with both local people and the nation’s wildlife. In early April, the rebels infiltrated the Dzanga Bai clearing, gunned down 26 elephants with automatic weapons, hacked out the animals’ tusks, then vanished.
- How many elephants are left on earth?
- Are elephants endangered species?
There are about 600 000 African elephants, and between 30 000 and 50 000 Asian elephants. (Approximately 20% are in captivity) It´s difficult to estimate their numbers exactly. The Africans dropped by 50%, from 1.3 millions to 600 000, between 1979 and 1989, because of poaching. About 8 elephants an hour (70 000/year) were poached during this period, until the CITES Ivory ban 1989.
The CITES ((Washington)Convention of International Trade In Endangered Species) regard both species as so threatened, so they are included an appendix 1. (the red list) In the Cites conference 1997, populations in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia were downlisted to appendix II. This means that limited trade with ivory on quota, to Japan is ok.
If a population is undisturbed, it grows with only 6% a year according to the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) elephant specialist group.
* Reference Sources for this information:
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