By John Ingham
Nearly 100 elephants are being slaughtered for their tusks every 24 hours, an expert warned yesterday as world leaders gathered in London for a Royal conference on fighting poaching.
An elephant is killed every 15 minutes by poachers feeding the ivory trade, said The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
As the adults are butchered, growing numbers of orphan elephants are left to fend for themselves.
The Nairobi-based Trust’s warning was issued as David Cameron, Prince Charles and Prince William prepared to host the two-day conference on the £6billion illegal wildlife trade.
Delegates from Africa’s elephant range states and the main ivory markets – China, Japan and Vietnam – are expected to attend the talks which start today at Lancaster House.
During the two-day conference an estimated 192 elephants will be killed by poachers, the Trust warned.
Trust director Rob Brandford said: “We must make this meeting of global heads of state – a first for endangered species – mean something for elephants, humans and ecosystems who have perished at the hands of the trade.
“We call on all governments, especially the UK, to ban domestic legal ivory markets, invest in funds for more boots on the ground and state-of-the-art equipment of rangers and increase penalties associated with wildlife crime to save eco-systems and with that, the elephant and other species.”
Last year, the Trust’s teams arrested 391 poachers, and its mobile vet units treated over 80 injured elephants. It also saved a record 47 orphaned elephants.