Elephant Poaching: Threat to Nature
By admin April 3, 2017

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Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. According to Great Elephant Census released in 2016, Africa now has 352,271 savanna elephants left in 93 percent of the species’ range. The current yearly loss—overwhelmingly from poaching—is estimated at 8 percent. That’s about 27,000 elephants slaughtered year after year. Mortality is unusually concentrated among the largest adults with the biggest tusks. The countries with the greatest declines were Tanzania and Mozambique, with a combined loss of 73,000 elephants to poaching in just five years. By contrast, South Africa, Uganda, parts of Malawi, and Kenya were found to have stable or slightly growing herds.

African elephants are split into two distinct species: the African bush elephant, the most prevalent species, and the smaller African forest elephant. The bush elephant is the world’s largest living species of land animal. In both African elephant species, the males and females have tusks which are important to them for a variety of purposes in daily life. However, these tusks are a significant source of ivory which is used in ivory ornaments and jewelry.

The ivory trade is one of the main reasons why the elephant population is in decline. This trade feeds demand for ivory products in Asia, Europe, the USA, and elsewhere. The 1989 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement between governments, restricts international trade of ivory. The ban allowed some populations to recover. However, demand for ivory has continued to stimulate illegal trafficking and poaching of elephants. At the beginning of this year, China, one of the largest ivory markets, announced that it is going to ban all commerce in ivory by the end of the year. “China’s announcement is a game changer for elephant conservation,” said Carter Roberts, the president and chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund. “With the United States also ending its domestic ivory trade earlier this year, two of the largest ivory markets have taken action that will reverberate around the world.”

In addition to illegal trade of ivory, elephants are also threatened by loss of habitat as a result of the rapid growth of human population and the extension of agriculture. Sometimes, elephants can be dangerous too, eating farmers’ crops and destroying farmland. Small farmers are especially vulnerable. Their livelihood could be lost overnight due to an elephant raid. As a result, elephants are often killed in retaliation. How to mitigate human-elephant conflict while conserving land and resources is a major issue in elephant conservation and an important topic in sustainable agriculture development.

Read more:

China Bans Its Ivory Trade, Moving Against Elephant Poaching

WWF: Human – Elephant Conflict

WWF: Threats to African elephants

African Elephant Numbers Plummet 30 Percent, Landmark Survey Finds

Elephant Poaching Statistics

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