Infant elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Over the weekend Kenya suffered its single worst elephant poaching incident when poachers killed an entire family of elephants. In all, eleven elephants were gunned down and had their tusks removed. Among the dead was a two-month-old calf. The elephants were killed in Tsavo East National Park.
In response, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has deployed both ground and aerial rangers to flush out the poachers. It is believed that a group of ten poachers are responsible for the attack.
A recent report found that ivory smuggling had hit its highest level in twenty years in 2011. The demand for ivory, especially in China, has led to the rise in smuggling and poaching. Kenyan officials say they lose around a hundred elephants to poachers annually, however, in central Africa over ten thousand elephants are likely being killed every year. Surveys have documented that some areas have lost half their elephants in just five years.
African elephants are currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. However, scientists using genetic evidence have recently argued that there are in fact two species of elephant in Africa: the more common savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), which inhabits the Congo rainforest and is more endangered by the onslaught of poachers.
(12/23/2012) Ivory smuggling surged in 2011, reaching its highest levels in nearly 20 years, says a new report released by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
(12/13/2012) Royal Malaysian Customs have just announced the seizure of 24 tons of ivory in Port Klang. This is the largest-ever seizure of ivory in transit through the country. The 1,500 pieces of ivory came from over 750 elephants and were exported from Togo, a tiny west African country that has fewer than 200 elephants. The ivory was hidden in containers containing wooden crates that were built to look like stacks of sawn timber. The two crates were shipped from the port of Lomé in Togo, and were going to China via Algeria, Spain and Malaysia. Richard Leakey, the former Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), who set Kenya’s ivory stockpile alight in 1989, responded to the announcement.
(12/12/2012) Malaysian authorities made their largest-ever ivory bust after uncovering 24 tons of ‘white gold’ hidden in crates designed to look like stacks of sawn wood.
(12/12/2012) This week the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) announced a 14% decline in elephants in the Samburu/Laikipia ecosystem over the last 4 years. The decline has occurred in a population whose natural growth rate was measured at 5.3% between 2002 and 2008 according to the previous survey, suggesting that over 300 elephants are dying annually in the Samburu and Laikipia’s landscape, denting the poster child image of one of Kenya’s most important wildlife landscapes. Poaching and drought are the main causes of mortality in this population. The impact of poaching on tourism cannot be ignored, heavily armed bandits threaten more than elephants, if we can’t protect elephants how can we protect international tourists? But it’s the long term consequence that are of greater concern.
(11/18/2012) Officials in Hong Kong have made a second major ivory bust in less than a month, reports the Associated Press.