Elephant poaching falls but ‘tens of thousands still being killed every year’

The illegal killing of African elephants for their ivory seems to have fallen from record peaks but poaching of the animal is still far too high, an international report said on Thursday. More patrols in wildlife parks, better forensic techniques for tracking the origin of tusks, and a crackdown on corruption by China, the main market for ivory, were among factors helping to limit the slaughter. “There are elements of good news, but we are nowhere near the success we need to turn the trends around,” John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species said.

In some parts of the African continent we are confronting potential local extinctions, in particular in central and western Africa.

John Scanlon, CITES

About six in ten of the elephants found dead in the wild in 2015 had been killed by poachers for their ivory rather than having died of natural causes, down from almost eight in ten at a peak in 2011, Cites said. its index tracking the illegal ivory trade dipped in 2014, the latest year for which data were available, from peaks in 2012 and 2013 that were the highest since international commercial trade in ivory was banned in 1989. Taken together, the data indicated that poaching was declining or had at least stabilised after a surge that began a decade ago, CITES said.

It needs to be understood that poaching levels may be down but in some cases that is due to the fact the populations are severely depleted

Dr Susan Lieberman, from the Wildlife Conservation Society