Forest elephants are in rapid decline. Roughly 60-80% of forest elephants have been killed in the past decade.
The main cause for the escalating rise in elephant killings is the growing demand for ivory: Asia is still a major market for poached ivory. The liberalization of the ivory trade pushed by some countries is also contributing to the widespread slaughter. In addition, the increased presence of Chinese labourers and traders in Africa feeds a massive domestic demand for ivory in their home country.
Ivory is used especially in China, Japan and Thailand for decorative and religious ornaments. A conservative estimate for 2011 is that more than 25,000 elephants have been killed and their tusks smuggled into these countries to be carved into artefacts. In Asian countries there is a growing affluent middle class and the demand for elephant ivory has now become an investment vehicle in China, wanted as a form of white gold.
CITES Secretariat’s programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) warns for an ongoing increase in levels of elephant poaching since 2006, with 2011 displaying the highest levels of poaching since MIKE records began. 2012-2016 continue to display the highest levels of elephant poaching. The current level is believed to be the threshold above which elephant populations are in net decline.
Ivory has replaced blood diamonds as a major source of cash for criminal syndicates and terrorist groups. In many African countries, middle-men work with local trackers, hiring weapons from corrupt rangers or police officers to kill elephants. Tusks are sent to East African ports such as Mombasa, Djibouti or Dar es Salaam and are typically exported via Malaysia or Vietnam to avoid the more rigorous customs checks at Chinese ports.
Poachers in Africa are heavily armed and organized. In 2012, 650 elephants were killed in Bouba N’Djida National Park in Cameroon by Sudanese militia using machine guns. In DR-Congo, 22 dead elephants were found in Garamba National Park with a single bullet hole in the top of their heads. Authorities believe the Ugandan military and one of their helicopters have been involved. In March 2013, rebels from Sudan killed 86 elephants in Chad. Urgent action is needed to stop these atrocities.
Ivory Supply & Demand
In the past 10 years, tens of thousands of elephants have died so that their tusks can be carved into ornamental or religious objects. Most of the large-scale ivory seizures in the past three years occurred in Kenya and Tanzania.
The shipments were primarily bound for markets in China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Thailand have been identified as the three most problematic countries with regard to the illegal trade in ivory. Ranked in order of ivory seized, ivory consumer countries include, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and India. Congo and DR-Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Gabon have been strongest hit by elephant poachers.
Saving elephants and their habitat
We establish new protected areas in Central Africa and engage local communities in the protection of Forest elephants by turning poachers into rangers and community scouts. In order save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped.
Your help is urgently needed to support wildlife rangers in their mission - and to stop the demand for ivory in Asian countries. Please donate now!
Please feel free to download and distribute the poster (PDF file): Download PDF