While you probably care about elephants being poached for their ivory, you might not fully realise how the ongoing slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants annually may be impacting your life.
Ivory is extremely valuable and like diamonds, it is not only funding civil and tribal wars within Africa’s boundaries, but also terrorist organisations.
Thirty thousand. That is the number of African elephants that were killed in 2012 for their tusks.
The annual value of illegally harvested and sold ivory and rhino horn is estimated at $8 billion. The problem however goes beyond the thousands of bloodied, lifeless carcasses of majestic African giants laying the bushveld, painting the amber gold tall grass in a painful shade of red.
The harvest and trade of ivory and horn, like diamonds and gemstones in some parts of Africa, is increasingly linked to organised crime and terrorism, and are increasingly used as an untraceable form of currency to fund their struggles.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) stated that “the illegal killings of African elephants for their ivory are increasingly involving organised crime and in some cases well-armed rebel militias.”
Wildlife poaching doesn’t stop with elephants or in Africa. The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates the global illegal wildlife trade to be worth at least $19 billion per year, making it the fourth largest illicit trade globally after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
“Much of the trade is run by sophisticated criminal networks with broad international reach. The profits from wildlife trafficking are used to purchase weapons, finance civil conflicts and underwrite terrorist-related activities,” a recent WWF report ‘Fighting Illicit Wildlife Trafficking’ states.
The culprit is a surging demand for ivory and rhino horn, particularly from China, Vietnam and other Asian countries with rapidly growing middle classes.
Asian wealthy populations are growing exponentially. Their hunger for rhino horn as an aphrodisiac and anti hangover cure and ivory as luxury ornaments has led to a substantial increase of the value of these two products, fuelling poaching. More....