If the illegal ivory trade is not curbed, the majestic African elephant may be extinct within the next decade.
Majestic and wise, the African elephant is an iconic land animal revered for its gargantuan size and regal presence. But did you know that in just the past three years, over 100,000 African elephants were poached for their ivory tusks? The rate at which elephants are being illegally hunted, according to experts, places them at risk of becoming extinct within the next one or two decades.
At the recent Africa Elephant Summit in Botswana, Africa, conservationists presented some alarming figures about the elephants, showing that they very well may go extinct within the next 10 years if something drastic isn’t done.
“This species could be extinct in our lifetime, within one or two decades, if the current trend continues,” stated Dune Ives, senior researcher at Vulcan, a philanthropic organization run by US billionaire Paul Allen. “In five years we may have lost the opportunity to save this magnificent and iconic animal.”
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, between 2006 and 2013, the elephant population has declined from 550,000 to 470,000, and in East Africa, their numbers have gone from 150,000 to 100,000.
China, being the largest importer of illegally poached African elephant ivory, has received immense pressure in recent years to crack down on the trade. In response, its government and largest social media site recently tightened measures to reduce the illegal import and trade of poached ivory. China was only one of the 20 countries that attended this summit.
“The elephant’s future is entirely dependent on persuading The Chinese (and to a lesser extend other Far Eastern countries such as Thailand and Vietnam) to end this illegal trade in what only rich people buy and nobody needs,” said Brian Jackman, Telegraph Travel’s safari expert, agreeing with the sentiment expressed by Tshekedi Khama, Botswanan minister of tourism and wildlife. “There are encouraging signs that the message is finally getting through, but it is going to be touch and go for Africa’s steadily dwindling herds.”
Kenyan wildlife expert Jonathan Scott believes the next best step for people to take is to support the protection of animals through tourism. Actual tourism, that is, not hunting.
“The bottom line is this: if we abandon tourism, we abandon conservation,” said Scott. “When people ask me, ‘How can we help?’ we say: ‘By taking a safari.’ Wildlife-based tourism is not a choice but a necessity. It pays the bills that keep the game parks and their wildlife secure. Without the tourist dollars, you might as well hand over all the remaining wildlife to the poachers.”
We know where our next trip will be, then. Share your thoughts on this disturbing news below.
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