Elephant carcasses were discovered near or close to saltpans. In 2013, The Telegraph recorded 300 elephant deaths. The Guardian recorded over 20,000 deaths, Zimbabwe Standard recorded more than 500 deaths.
Chemical poisoning of wildlife was promoted in 2013, a total of forty cyanide-contaminated sites were recorded by the local authorities in Zimbabwe.
In 2013 the local authorities retrieved only fifty-one tusks.
The African elephant population has declined from 12 million to 350,000 in just a century. More than one-hundred thousand African elephants were poached in 2006-2015, for their tusks.
Commercial international trade of ivory is prohibited under the convention of international trade in endangered species and the IUCN Red List. Despite the bans on domestic ivory trade, poaching continues, with high demand in 2019 from China (£1.27B), Nigeria (£1.0B), France (£800M), USA (£400M).
In 2018, China banned trade for elephant ivory. Poachers here annually murdered 30,000 African elephants for intricate carvings, ornaments, and chopsticks. Xiangya means, “elephant tooth,” in Chinese culture this has led many to believe ivory can be taken from the elephant without inflicting harm. In 2007, 70% of poachers did not realise the elephant had to be killed to take its tusks.
During 2019, purchases from tourists increased by 27% but purchases from retailers decreased. In 2020 there was an 88% decline in ivory sales.
UNODC’s World Wildlife Crime Report found 2,772 pieces of elephant tusks at the Nigerian Apapa Ports.
Cheryl Lo, the Wildlife Crime manager for WWF-Hong Kong, said, “Making the Chinese ban a real turning point in the elephant poaching crisis means closing the remaining markets in Asia and stamping out consumer demand.” To successfully reduce the elephant ivory trade, WWF aims to recognise ivory consumers and understand their energy to buy ivory.
The head of conservation programs at The Royal Foundation, Naomi Doak said, “We have to address demand if we are ever going to truly tackle the poaching of elephants for ivory.”
Ivory is beautiful, rare, and extremely valuable. It is known to be a luxury item called “white gold”, people display ivory to flaunt their wealth, show off ‘high-end art.’ (continue reading here).
In 2016, The Great Elephant Census found 352,271 savanna elephants. Their population dropped by 30% in seven years. In Africa elephant meat ‘bushmeat’ is considered a delicacy, selling at almost £6,000.
Since 2006, more than 90% of forest elephant's habitat has been chopped down for the pink ivory. Forest elephants are commonly killed in Tri-National-Dja-Odzala-Minkébé, which is close to Dzanga Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic.
Orji Sunday, a Lagos journalist said that a part of the problem is that the high prices made by middle-men to attract rural hunters, who tend to be poor and cut off from other economic opportunities. If poaching stops, who is going to grant poor people a job, and who is going to feed their family?
In 2016, the French Minister announced an absolute ban on ivory sales, Between 2011 and 2014 780kg of ivory items were traded, between 2003 and 2014, 92% of EU ivory exports were sent to China and Hong Kong. In 2018 French authorities destroyed over 500kg of ivory as a part of the international campaign to end elephant poaching.
Ségolène Royal a French politician and socialist party candidate declared a ceremony to extinguish 105 tons of ivory. The president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta organised the event, which took place in Nairobi. The ceremony was directed towards poachers who continue to distribute, noting that since the ban ivory workers from Dieppe have viewed the law as erroneous.
In 2018, ivory items were bought disregarding illegal activity. 74.3% was illegally traded across the EU, 85% of the 74.3% was traded in France.
Since the ban on ivory trade in America was announced in 2016, on average 20,000 African elephants are killed illegally, for their tusks. Through the AfECA, it is illegal to import raw ivory and to export raw ivory from the US. US law enforcement set up a contact for anyone spotting illegal trade, 703-358-1949.
From 2010 to 2012 100,000 African elephants were poached, approximately 96 elephants were killed per day. The US is one of the larger worldwide markets and during the ban, there have been several arrests resulting in over a million dollars in ivory.
In the US, ivory is still in high demand within the black market and criminal syndicates. The ban applies to commercial, import, export, and interstate trade, and only 10% of illegal ivory is confiscated. However, the ban allows commercial exporting and trading of antique, manufactured, and handcrafted items that contain small amounts of imported ivory. Illegal ivory is carved into jewellery, netsuke, and trinkets and advertised as antiques.
Identifying the age of ivory is extremely difficult, nearly impossible, costing $500 a test, to determine the age.
In 2012, both of Donald Trump’s sons were identified in trophy hunting. Donald Jr. and Eric have been captured holding a dead elephant tail, seen standing next to a hanging crocodile and gripping a dead leopard. This has since followed them across all social media platforms and journalism. The reason Donald Jr had was, “elephants are overpopulated in the area the Trumps hunted and so need to be hunted to prevent them from further destroying their habitat.”
Conservationists have said that elephants are in sharp decline because of trophy hunting and poaching.
In 2014 the Obama administration’s US fish and wildlife service banned the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe because of the failed elephant management within Zimbabwe.
However, in 2017, FWS told that as a part of the sound management program sport hunting can be beneficial to certain species if the hunters provide revenue to conservations. Safari Club International, Hunting Rights Group, and the National Rifle Association applauded this.
American trophy hunters have a far more significant impact on wildlife than other countries. They imported over 1.26 million wild animals in-between 2005-2014. Most of these animals originate from South Africa and Canada with New York as the main port of entry because of its international transport connections.
In 2018, This Morning Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield interviewed an American mother of four about her killing one-hundred animal species, the mother, ‘Olivia Opre’ states that hunting brings her closer to the wild and culture. Olivia states that hunting pushes her to test her limits and step outside of her comfort zone, to connect with the wild.
Olivia later says hunting helps protect wildlife from locals and other poachers and that wildlife are sustainable.
Later in the interview, Giles Clark said hunters have a fantasy about poaching, from his perspective he has experienced connecting with nature by not having to kill its endangered wildlife. Giles continues to say that poaching and trophy hunting is entirely unnecessary and disrupts ecology.
Human and wildlife conflict has become a widely known issue, hunters believe the solution is to kill the wildlife, however this is completely false, this will disturb the ecosystem.
Elephants are a key species that disperse seeds, they are responsible for nearly 95% of seed dispersion. As the number of elephants decrease, so do trees. This becomes an issue for flora growth and wild herbivores. Elephants are known to create watering holes in dry riverbeds, for the entire community of species to use. Elephants also maintain open grasslands and fertilise soil with their rich manure and nutrients.