Killing of Elephants for Ivory Continues to Plague Africa


Share on Facebook


The killing of elephants for their ivory continues to plague many African states.

Eleven elephants have been killed n Uganda  so far this year. The tusks are often shipped  to  Asian countries such as China,  Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Twenty-five were killed in 2011.

"Poachers are decimating the elephant population and we have to increase vigilance, including security, in the parks," said Ugandan expert.

Uganda's forests were home to about 30,000 elephants in the mid-1960s, but there are only 4,400 left today.

Many militias from neighboring counties are participating in the slaughter.

According to the “Associated Press,” Large seizures of elephant tusks make this year  one of the worst on record since ivory sales were banned in 1989, with recent estimates suggesting as many as 3,000 elephants were killed by poachers, experts said.

"2011 has truly been a horrible year for elephants," said Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino expert for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC. Malaysian authorities seized hundreds of African elephant tusks worth $1.3 million that were being shipped to Cambodia recently.

“Most cases involve ivory being smuggled from Africa into Asia, where growing wealth has fed the desire for ivory ornaments and for rhino horn that is used in traditional medicine, though scientists have proved it has no medicinal value.

“TRAFFIC said Asian crime syndicates are increasingly involved in poaching and the illegal ivory trade across Africa, a trend that coincides with growing Asian investment on the continent.

"The escalation in ivory trade and elephant and rhino killing is being driven by the Asian syndicates that are now firmly enmeshed within African societies," Milliken said in a telephone interview from his base in Zimbabwe. "There are more Asians than ever before in the history of the continent, and this is one of the repercussions."

“But the International Fund for Animal Welfare said recent estimates suggest more than 3,000 elephants have been killed for their ivory in the past year alone.

"Reports from Central Africa are particularly alarming and suggest that if current levels of poaching are sustained, some countries, such as Chad, could potentially lose their elephant populations in the very near future," said Jason Bell, director of the elephant program for the fund based in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

”Rhinos also have suffered: A record 443 rhino were killed this year in South Africa, according to National Geographic News Watch. That surpassed last year's figure of 333 dead rhino despite the government deploying soldiers to protect the endangered animals this year in its flagship Kruger National Park."

Read more at "Worst Year in Decades for Endangered Elephants."

The New York Times reports that impoverished villages and armies find ivory is a easy way to generate funds. China is the place where most of the ivory goes.

male gorilla

  Last year, we wrote about the killing of animals for financial gain. Elephants, tigers--and many other animals--continue to be hunted and killed for profit, endangering the world's animal population.

According to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, “Tigers have undergone a dramatic decline over the past century. At the beginning of the 20th century wild tigers numbered nearly 100,000 in the wild. After decades of over-hunting, poaching, encroachment, and habitat degradation and fragmentation, tigers number no more than 3,200 in the wild today. Those 3,200 individuals live in only seven percent of their historic range, which spanned from northeastern Russia, and eastern China, to southeastern Asia.”

Tigers were declared endangered in 1968 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and their numbers have continued to decline since then. Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) “have been studying tiger biology and ecology almost since they were declared endangered. The 1972 Smithsonian-Nepal Tiger Ecology Project identified over-hunting and habitat loss as the culprits behind the dwindling tiger population. Today SCBI scientists are still working to save tigers, and share their expertise with others working to protect tigers.”

Jaguars continue to be prized by hunters. “During the sixties and seventies, around 18,000 jaguars were killed every year for their beautiful coat. Formerly prized furs, such as those from the leopard, cheetah, or jaguar, may no longer be hunted in the countries where they are indigenous, and many other countries forbid their importation. The Federal Endangerment Species Act prohibits the importation and sale of these furs in the United States. In addition, special laws that protect certain North American species are enforced in the United States and in Canada, and wildlife refuges have been set up for the purpose of protecting the jaguar. The jaguar is a beautiful and graceful animal; it needs protection and conservation measures so they don't become extinct.

“The number of jaguars has declined over the last 100 years mainly because humans have slashed and burned many of their homelands in Central and South America; new cities are being built, and the forests and grasslands are being cleared. The destruction of the jaguar's habitat from logging and cattle ranching as well as having to compete with humans for food has brought a large decease in its population. One of the problems experienced by the jaguars is when the grasses that help hide them are dying because of smog problems. More jaguars are killed as the demand for their fur increases. In hunting, the jaguar is usually chased by dogs until it runs up a tree or until it is cornered on the ground; then it is shot. The Bororo Indians of Mato Grosso, Brazil hunt them with spears. When a jaguar is cornered on the ground, the hunter gets it to rush him, and then catches it on his spear as it leaps at him.”


Visit your local library to obtain resources to learn more about poaching.

Ivory’s Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants
John Frederick Walker, (2009).
Author of a book about an endangered species (The Curve of the Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola, 2002), Walker surveys the plight of another, the African elephant, in this work. Nominally protected by an international prohibition of commerce in their tusks, elephants continue to be poached and, occasionally, legally killed. Walker’s review of the arguments by proponents (mainly African countries) and opponents (mainly Western conservationists) of permitting some level of trade in ivory caps his history of the material’s allures and applications throughout human history. —Excerpt of review by Gilbert Taylor first published December 15, 2008 (Booklist).

Horn of Darkness. Rhinos on the Edge
Cunningham, C. and J. Berger, (1997).

Battle for the Elephants
Iain Douglas-Hamilton and Oria, (1992).
edited by Brian Jackman (Extensive discussion of the ivory trade.)

Animal Underworld: Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species
Alan Green, Center for Public Integrity, (1999).

Wildlife Wars The Life and Times of a Fish and Game Warden
Terry Grosz, (1999).

Fish, Markets, and Fishermen. The Economics of Overfishing
Suzanne Iudicello, Michael Weber and Robert Wieland, (1999).

From Forest to Pharmacy. The Global Underground Trade in Bear Parts
Peter Knights, (1996). Investigative Network and The Humane Society of the United States.

Sold for a Song. The Trade in Southeast Asian Non-CITES Birds
S.V. Nash, (1993). TRAFFIC International.

The Animal Smugglers and Other Wildlife Traders
John Nichol, (1987). Facts on File Publications.

Gorillas in the Mist
Dian Fossey, (1983).

"Worst Year in Decades for Endangered Elephants,"


Photo credits:

Elephant in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania (raises its trunk as a sign of warning or to smell enemies or friends) by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

Male silverback gorilla in SF zoo by Mila Zinkova.

Creative Commons License


Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture.
Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.