About the SA Blog Network

Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world
Extinction Countdown Home

Poachers still killing 100 elephants daily in Africa

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint


Twenty years after the international ban on ivory trade took effect, poachers are still slaughtering more than 100 elephants a day, according to a report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The ban on ivory trade, established by the U.N.’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), took effect on October 17, 1989. At the time an average of 200 elephants were killed every day in Africa. Poaching almost ceased after the ban, but it is now on the increase once again, felling an average of 104 elephants per day, the IFAW has found.

In the 10 years before the ban, African elephant populations had dropped from 1.2 million to 600,000. Twenty years later, that number now stands at around 470,000.

Over the last few years, CITES has allowed several one-off sales of ivory stockpiles, mostly from elephants that died of natural causes. But according to IFAW, this has fed consumer demand and created opportunities for the black market to mask its operations. The world financial crisis has made things even worse: Many African nations have had to cut back on their antipoaching operations, giving illegal wildlife traders even more incentive to profit from their operations.

Can this increase in elephant poaching be reversed? IFAW is calling for CITES to completely ban ivory sales for the next 20 years, in hopes of destroying the market for legal and illegal ivory.

The next CITES meeting about elephants won’t be held until March. Unfortunately, at current rates, that means at least 12,000 African elephants could die in the interim.

Image: African Elephant by Jeremy Doorten, via Stock.xchng


Rights & Permissions

Comments 10 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. piedpiper1000 5:39 pm 10/19/2009

    There is only one way to prevent this horrendous and stupid act: there needs to be a concerted effort against the poachers and that is to hunt them down and kill them. Put out a bounty on these people and you will soon see a drastic reduction in killings. I think that you have to admit that the vwlvet glove has failed.

    Link to this
  2. 2. EndangeredSpeciesWatch 5:45 pm 10/19/2009

    This article scratches the surface, but does not offer a thorough explanation of the resurgence in elephant poaching.

    Elephant poaching – just like tiger and rhino poaching – is on the increase due to the dangerous combination of demand and "new wealth" in China. Bringing attention to elephant poaching is certainly appreciated, but without including the connection to China (particularly the Chinese issue in Kenya), the article is incomplete.

    Link to this
  3. 3. piedpiper1000 6:03 pm 10/19/2009

    Obviously it would not be possble to work this from the Chinese end, Hence you have to scratch from the other end until some type of fissure is made to the source at the frican end of the problem

    Link to this
  4. 4. LetLive 6:24 pm 10/19/2009

    The fact that people could kill these beautiful, intelligent animals for ivory is beyond human comprehension. We have to ask ourselves how the human species has become so degraded. We used to say "animal" to imply cruel or uncivilized behaviour. Now we must reassess. Please watch "Stop Animal Cruelty" on every Tuesday. If we cannot start to allow the animals their God-given lives, do you think our planet has much of a future? I ask all people to stop any practises which cause pain, suffering or death to animals. From elephants to cows to pigs, the animals are not here for us to use and abuse. Please, let’s again become human beings, full of humane impulses. Thank you.

    Link to this
  5. 5. hotblack 11:54 pm 10/19/2009

    Time to start killing a hundred poachers a day.

    Link to this
  6. 6. hotblack 12:00 am 10/20/2009

    In fact, thinking about it, if I lose my company, I might very well just cash in my american chips, buy a one-way ticket, and take the job on myself. Considering what I fought for in the service, it could be argued I owe the world this much.

    Link to this
  7. 7. sparcboy 9:01 am 10/21/2009

    The problem is the chimpanzees. That being the ones with an intellect they have scant idea how to fully utilize…..humans.

    Link to this
  8. 8. trusktr 2:48 pm 10/21/2009

    Wow! This is rediculous! We need to take care of the world! We should be stopping 100 poachers per day!

    Link to this
  9. 9. trusktr 2:49 pm 10/21/2009

    Yeah hotblack, if you go, enlist me in your army.

    Link to this
  10. 10. cbrown 3:53 pm 01/20/2010

    Ridiculous! Killing the poachers, often extremely impoverished Africans, is not the solution. Stopping demand is key. Asians are the primary consumers. We need to find ways to stop their abuse of the environment – maybe boycotting their products? Suggesting that poor people, who have been hired by middle men to kill elephants, should themselves be killed is asinine, heartless, and completely lacking in comprehension of the issue. CITES needs to stop allowing these "one off" sales of ivory, keep the ban in place, and police the illegal market.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article