19 December 2012

Kenya: Elephants Deaths Rise Over Thirst for Ivory

Photo: Kevin Walsh

This has been the worst year for elephants in Africa following wanton killing by poachers, says the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Director of the Elephant Programme of IFAW Jason Bell attributed the massive elephant killing in Africa to high demand for ivory in Asia and Europe.

Some 34 tonnes of illegal ivory have been confiscated with the latest being last Monday where Malaysian officials seized the world's largest ever ivory consignment weighing 24 tonnes. This is the biggest ever ivory seizure in the 24 years since the keeping of detailed records began.

"Between 15 October and 16 November 2012, more than five tonnes of contraband ivory were seized in Hong Kong. While the ivory was found in ships which embarked from Kenya and Tanzania, the origin of the ivory itself has yet to be ascertained," he said.

In a statement issued on Monday, Bell said: "It is clear the slaughter of elephants for their ivory will only end when there are no more markets for ivory products and effective enforcement or when there are no more elephants to kill," said Bell.Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and coveted as "white gold."

Limited availability of the legal ivory China purchased from the stockpile sale from southern Africa countries in 2008 has boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephants.

Asia Regional Director for IFAW Grace Ge Gabriel said China's fast growing human population, economy and demand for luxury goods, is placing intense pressure on elephant populations.Bell said the fight against poaching needs coordinated efforts by the international law enforcement community.

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