The number of elephants alive today is the smallest number ever recorded. A new surge of slaughter is, according to wildlife experts, worse than the mass killings of the 1970s and 80s, before an international effort to curb the killings, ban ivory sales and enforce anti-poaching laws enabled the elephant population to rebound.
Consumer demand for ivory and rhino horn and international criminal conspiracies to obtain and trade them have led to sophisticated attacks on elephants and rhinos.
An early March meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species will consider new proposals to ban ivory sales and other measures to protect large animals from extinction. 'Battle for the Elephants', a National Geographic documentary paralleling an article, 'Blood Ivory' by author Bryan Christy in the magazine last October, will air on the U.S. Public Broadcasting Network on 28 February. The magazine's "A Voice for Elephants" blog tracks the issue.
Robert D. Hormats, U.S. Under Secretary of State for economic growth, energy and the environment spent about a year in east Africa as a graduate student on a program called Operation Crossroads Africa. He has returned to Africa frequently, including an August trip to Namibia and Botswana, as well as South Africa, where he joined then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In November, the secretary hosted an event on wildlife trafficking at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Earlier, Hormats sat down for an interview with AllAfrica. Excerpts: More....