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In 1979, there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants, but today there are just 470 000 – and some authorities estimate a much lower number, says the Kenya Elephant Forum.
“The loss of a million elephants has been due primarily to killing for ivory. Natural habitat loss is a second important factor: human population has tripled in elephant range states since 1970.”
Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) identified eight countries last year as the worst offenders in the illegal ivory trade chain: supply states Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; consumer states China and Thailand; and transit countries Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
There have been at least four symbolic events in which ivory has been destroyed in the past year to highlight poaching and the illegal ivory market:
l At an event in Denver in November last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service used a gravel crusher to destroy six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs seized over 20 years.
l In January, more than six tons of illegal ivory was chipped and ground into powder in Guangzhou, China.
l In February, France became the first European country to destroy its stocks of illegal ivory, crushing three tons of ivory at a Paris site in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
l In May, a burning in Hong Kong marked the first stage of the government’s plans to destroy its 28-ton stockpile of ivory confiscated over years.