Singapore confiscated the largest illegal ivory shipment since 2002 when 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusk were seized from a cargo ship yesterday, hidden in tea leaf shipping containers. The ivory transported from Kenya was worth an estimated $6 million USD.
Assume 900 African elephants were killed for these tusks and their lives were worth less than $7,000 each.
Last week I wrote about Sudan, the 42-year old last Northern White Rhino male in Kenya who will possibly be the last male animal in the species before it goes extinct. One of the reports I read today estimates a dead rhino is worth USD $200,000 to $300,000 on the black market.
Then, I was amazed to read in National Geographic that more than 100,000 African elephants were killed by poachers from 2010 to 2012.
The most recent comprehensive survey of the African elephants population estimates there are between 472,000 and 690,000 elephants on the African continent. That survey was made in 2007.
Great Elephant Census
The Great Elephant Census is a Paul Allen project (Microsoft). Aerial photography to be completed in summer 2015 will account for about 80% of the African elephant’s savanna range and allow a count of approximately 90% of Africa’s savanna elephants.
The rate of poaching deaths exceeds the birth rate for most elephant populations studied.
While humans have been poaching African elephants for their tusks for centuries, the continent is currently in the midst of an elephant slaughter that is worse than at any previous point in history. Experts say that poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year which could lead to their extinction in the near future. A ban on the international sale of ivory went into force in 1990, but rising demand from Asia, and increasingly insecure political environments in Africa, have ratcheted up the number of elephants under threat.
Singapore Strait Times – Singapore authorities seize illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns, big cats’ teeth estimated at $8 million (May 19, 2015)
Singapore Strait Times – Thailand customs seizes three tonnes of elephant ivory stashed in container from Kenya (April 27, 2015)
SA People – Tips for South Africans as Elephant Poaching Report Reveals Crime Syndicates in SA & Shocking Stats Rising August 29, 2014.
Estimates are 230,000 elephants were killed for ivory between 2009 and 2014.
Born Free USA – Born Free USA Exposes the Bloody Ivory Trade
Out of Africa – Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory (2014 Report pdf)
Out of Africa report findings:
- Price of ivory in China has skyrocketed from USD $5/kg in 1989 to USD $2,100/kg in 2014. An elephant tusk is around 3.7 kg of ivory.
- Since 2010 the rate of poaching deaths exceeds elephant birth rate in Africa.
- Tanzania wildlife is estimated to contribute about 90% of tourism dollars. In 1979, there were over 109,000 elephants. That number decreased to 13,000 elephants in 2013. An estimated 25,000 elephants were lost between 2009 and 2013.
I have read several trip reports about Africa this past year with loads of photos taken of elephants from wildlife safaris. Hardly anyone mentions the wildlife crisis happening right now in Africa.