After it was recently announced that an elephant had been poached in the Kruger National Park, for the first time in ten years, animal lovers all over are now foreseeing another big problem.
According to Dr Marion Garaï, chairperson of the Space for Elephants Foundation, the poaching of elephants has been a concern for a number of years. “Most of Africa’s elephants are currently being poached in Central Africa, and the fewer these elephants get, the bigger the chance becomes for South African elephants to become targets again,” Garaï said.
A recent study done in 2013 by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) called “Elephants in the Dust”, claims that South Africa currently holds only 3,8% of the continent’s African elephants, but that this percentage will start increasing monthly as the elephant population in the rest of Africa diminishes. Botswana holds the largest sub-population in the world.
According to Garaï there has been a huge increase in poaching since 2007, and in 2013 an estimated 50 000 elephants were poached across Africa. “That means that at least 100 elephants per day were poached, working out to nearly four elephants per hour. At this rate there will be no African elephants left in a couple of decades. Poaching needs to be stopped and it is currently not getting enough publicity for the public to notice the seriousness of it.”
Elephant ivory and rhino horn are traded transnationally by capitalized criminal syndicates that are usually facilitated by government corruption at many levels, Garaï explained. She also added that all research on this topic indicated that China and Thailand are the main buyers of both of these products, although elephant ivory and rhino horn are not used for the same purposes.
A media release by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) earlier in 2014 stated that at the current rate of poaching, two thirds of Africa’s elephants will be killed in the next ten years.
§ Dr Marion Garaï has a PhD in Zoology. She specialized in animal behaviour and did most of her studies specifically on elephants. She has initiated a number of foundations and has always strived to put nature first. She has been a resident of the Waterberg region for the last 20 years, and runs all her projects from her farm just outside of Vaalwater.