Were you aware that 96 elephants are killed in Africa every single day? Through the combined actions of poachers, 35,000 elephants are killed every year. Poachers kill elephants in order to obtain their ivory tusks, which are monetarily valuable. Many poachers sell the tusks on the black market, which is where much of of the ivory trade takes place. In recent years, more and more nations have been banning ivory, but this has not been enough to stop the threat to the elephants. This is primarily due to the fact that the majority of the ivory that leaves the African continent is obtained and transported illegally. In fact, around 80% of all the raw ivory that is traded today comes from elephants that were poached in Africa.
The years between 2006 and 2012 saw an increase in poaching, a period during which many thousands of elephants were slaughtered. In 2013, 86 elephants were killed in the country of Chad, and this included 33 pregnant female elephants, which hurt an important elephant population. In 2014, there were 50,000 elephants estimated to be remaining in central Africa, and most of those elephants live in Gabon and the Republic of Congo. In that same year, there were estimated to be around 700,000 elephants in total, and today, BBC has lowered the total estimate to 415,000. This means that in the last seven years, the elephant population has decreased by 30%.
The continued decrease in the elephant population is at least partly because of the lack of legal protections for African elephants. Less than 20% of the elephants’ range is legally protected, which means that in the vast majority of the range poachers are able to kill elephants, sell the ivory, and avoid any punishment.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) created the 96 Elephants campaign to protect the African elephants, and it was named after the aforementioned fact that 96 elephants are killed each day. This organization plays a role in managing reserves and training locals so that they can best protect the elephants. WCS also works to stop money from the ivory trade from ending up in criminal syndicates. To this end, WCS has helped African law enforcement to disband ivory trafficking networks. The 96 Elephants campaign website states that “in January 2017, our Wildlife Crime Unit in northern Congo was part of a big bust that yielded over 150 lbs. of ivory“. This is significant because if it had not been for this bust, all of that ivory would have been sold on the black market, encouraging further elephant poaching.
Whether or not you were aware, many people have stood up for African elephants, which has helped make the fight against poaching possible. For example, the U.S. government received a total of 164,238 comments from people who expressed their support for a federal ban on ivory. In addition, WCS received over 78,000 origami elephants from people living in all 50 states and in 40 countries overseas. Raising awareness about these kinds of issues does a lot to make a difference, and there is always a way to contribute. Whether it is making a donation or signing a petition, any contribution is encouraged and appreciated! Poaching is simply inhumane, not to mention illegal, and it is through a lot of people taking small actions together that we will be able to put an end to it.