By Dominic Dyer
In March 2010, I contributed to an article in the Sunday Times entitled “SAS veterans join new war on poachers” which sparked a global debate on the role of wildlife charities in deploying specialist military advisors to support armed rangers, who are putting their lives on the line to protect elephants in Africa from a surge in poaching.
The article was aimed at drawing global attention to the surging demand for ivory in China, Thailand and Vietnam and its devastating impact on Africa’s remaining elephants and ahead of key discussions on the ivory trade at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Doha.
Following the Doha CITES conference in 2010, all the African nations with elephant populations agreed an African Elephant Action Plan. This unique initiative would for the first time see full co-operation between elephant states in order to help stop the illegal killing of elephants and trade in their products.
Over three years later and following another CITES conference in Thailand, only $300,000 has been pledged by the international community to fund the $98 million budget for the Elephant Action Plan and it remains on hold. This is despite the fact that we now face the highest rate of elephant poaching in Africa since the global ivory ban was introduced in 1989.
In 2012 alone it was estimated that 40,000 elephants were killed by poachers, or one every 15 minutes. In the early 1900’s the elephant herds of Africa exceeded 12 million, today only 3% of the population remain around 350,000 elephants and if the current level of poaching continues, most of these animals could be lost in the next decade. More....