African elephant slaughter highest in more than two decades, experts say
Elephants killed by poachers in Cameroon's Bouba N'Djida National Park, near the border with Chad, are shown on February 23.
March 15th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

African elephant slaughter highest in more than two decades, experts say

Despite recent attempts by soldiers in Cameroon to stop the mass slaughter of elephants, poachers are continuing to kill the animals in record numbers, the World Wildlife Fund said Thursday.

Tons of tusks are being moved on camels and horses from Africa mostly to buyers willing to pay high prices in China and Thailand, said Tom Milliken, the director of the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

"Elephants represent an opportunity to gain money, and because there are ready buyers in most capital cities, the word is out there," Milliken said. "[There has been] an increased poaching assault like we haven't seen in two decades."

Poachers who recently killed at least 100 elephants in Cameroon's Bouba N'Djida National Park are reportedly from Chad and Sudan, the WWF said.

Unlike decades past when poachers across the continent ran down elephants using spears, the attackers are now highly organized and armed with sophisticated weapons. Many have used grenade launchers and high-powered rifles, allowing them to kill with greater ease and outgun police and military trying to stop them, said Richard Carroll, the WWF's Africa Program director. He has spent decades building an expertise in the Central African Republic.

He says he first fell in love with the region in the 1980s as a Peace Corps volunteer. Carroll said poachers obtained more automatic weapons during that era, when conflicts in Chad and Sudan began flaring. Many people involved with the ivory trade are forced to participate, oppressed over the years by warring sects, extreme poverty and fear of retribution if they don't do as they're told, he said.

There are several market-driven reasons for the increase in illegal ivory trade lately, experts with the WWF and Traffic said.

China has a legal ivory market that its government has said is highly controlled. Milliken, however, said China's system isn't strong enough.

Chinese customs officials generally target for inspection container shipments coming from Africa, but middlemen in the ivory trade are forging documents, making it appear that containers are from Malaysia or the Philippines to avoid inspection, he added. Ivory is also being hidden on trucks traveling across borders that carry legitimate goods like timber, he said.

Milliken said Chinese immigrants who have moved to Africa have "cornered the market" and are "bent" on making a quick buck by selling ivory.

Traffic is launching a campaign to help spread the word against poaching in African nations and in countries that are receiving ivory, Milliken said. Posters alerting people to the problem are being created in Chinese, English and various African languages.

But Milliken warns that the campaign can only go so far in reducing poaching. He wants the government of China to be more supportive, including sending law enforcement to Africa to help interrogate Chinese nationals arrested for the trade and to help with investigations by examining confiscated computers and cell phones that contain information in Chinese, he said.

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Filed under: Africa • wildlife
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. Haley Behre

    Reblogged this on haleybehre.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Won't be long now... You will only see elephants in a zoo or on TV. They won't roam wild much longer.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lila Lynch

      My God!!!! What won't the Chinese slaughter????? Elephants,whales??? People next???

      March 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    The Chinese, huh?
    I'm shocked.
    Whoda thunk?

    March 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      How much do you think you'd have to pay them to slaughter their own mother?


      March 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • davonskevort

      i think the best solution to this is to remove the elephants from the wild for 10 years or more.. basically to kill the markets behind the poaching. The flip side is that it will be hard to justify not letting humans encroach into that empty habitat.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian W.

      Charlie....nothing if they thought grinding up their mother into medicine would make them wealthy..

      March 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Earnest T Bass

    Sooooo Sad! More harsh comments would bar me from future posts.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pierot

    The Chinese are ALSO responsible for the horrific killings of tigers – due to the antiquated and mythical belief that ground tiger bones used in traditional Chinese medicine will give them the energy and vitality tigers. AND, they are ALSO responsible for the horrific decline (50% overall, and in some places by 80%-90%!) of the world's shark populations, due to the growth in Chinese demand for shark-fin soup. So called "shark finning", when a live shark's fins are cut off, and the helpless shark is then thrown back into the ocean to sink to the ocean floor which it slowly bleeds to death and cannot swim – is a horrific practice enouraged by this demand for the "fins only" demand for shark fin soup.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • M Houston

      anybody willing to pay for Chinese teeth? Maybe that time has come.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lea

    Its so sad to read this. I guess the only way for people to make money is to do it illegally. Poor elephants!!

    March 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It's the easiest way.
      It's not the only way.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kat

    I am physically sickened at the photos shown of these beautiful and majestic elephants lying dead. Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures, capable of great caring and compassion. What a pathetic race of people the Chinese are to need a piece of bone that badly that they have to slaughter a creature just to get it. But then, these same people also kill rhinos just to get their horns as they think it is an aphrodisiac when ground up and used. If they are that insecure about their manhood, perhaps they should spend their money on lengthening their little thingies. No wonder Oriental women are always looking for caucasian men.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • John C

      Well said, Kat! The United States could do something about this, but they are too busy trying to bring democracy and American values to insane people.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RMc

    Bring on the clone farms! Sell the ivory and use the cash to protect all natural DNA bearers.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • OregonTom

      Sounds like a plan!

      March 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Keyser

    Quite honestly, the sooner we make this planet inhabitable to humans...the better for the planet. We really are not that far away.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • M Houston

      you have got to mean UNinhabitable, right?

      March 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Seth Hill

    When humans moved into the Americas, giant camels, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, etc. roamed everywhere; in a thousand years we ate them all! Greed, hunger, and lust rule. Too bad.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. payback

    Why don’t we poison some elephant tusk, sale then to China and then give the money to the poor in Africa? That will take care of several problems.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sandra

    Why doesnt the govt pre cut off the tusks from Rhino and elephants so these ivory killers have no reason to poach of these great creatures...our world is being destroyed for IVORY....more value in gold. Who can afford ivory in the recession or at anytime...get real...We need to fight for these creatures the rate these animals are being slaughtered the children of the future wont even know what any animal looks like except from pictures in a book. I say Stop the Slaughter!

    March 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CandyBee

      Elephants use their tusks. They push them up against trees to shake fruit down from trees they cannot reach with their trunks; not to mention self-defense and fighting with each other, of course.

      March 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jweller13

    I hate to say it but rhinos and elephants are pretty much doomed. Iin third world countries pouching is too financially compelling for their impoverished citizens to not do it. Maybe the countries could treat them as a crop - tranquilize them and harvest their tusks, and sell them. That would give them a strong financial incentive to beef up their anti-pouching efforts. Or maybe they could foul the tusks somehow by feeding them some kind of dye or something regularly.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Randi

    The next time you read about or see a news story where an elephant charged people, remember the picture here.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bannister

    For all you multiculturalists that hate white people, imagine what the world will look like when Whites finally disappear- no Greenpeace, no Sierra Club, no World Wildlife Fund – only billions of Chinese swarming the planet and exploiting every last living plant and animal. Not a world that I would want to live in.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      There are plenty of trophy hunting white westerners, like the Trump kids, who fuel this mass slaughter of animals. The people who fight to save these animals granted, are probably mostly white, are fighting ignorance in other cultures along with their own cultures. Greed and ignorance knows no culture.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rich flay

    What happens to those that are caught poaching? What are the maximum penalties and are any of them caught? Is there a listing of how may heards exist and where they are located. The elephants need more protection from these ignorant monsters!

    March 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Not to put too fine a pont on it it, but I should this listing herd locations would be giving the poachers valuable info to keep doing what they're doing...but I get your point.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I'm going to try this again, lol.

      Not to put too fine a point on it it, but I should think that listing herd locations would be giving the poachers valuable info to keep doing what they're doing...but I understand what you are getiing at.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
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