By Samuel Burke
The slaughter of elephants and rhinos is happening on such a massive scale in Africa that the animals’ very existence is threatened.
Just this week poachers murdered an entire elephant family in Kenya. Eleven elephants were shot and killed from a helicopter – the country’s single worst slaughter on record.
These majestic animals are regularly killed using machine guns from helicopters – their tusks often used to make ivory trinkets.
The United States government says the butchering is not the result of excessive hunting, but rather organized crime, with black market ivory and horn worth some eight-billion dollars a year.
Stopping it is no longer only about protecting the planet's natural resources.
“It is also a national security issue, a public health issue and an economic security issue,” outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. Killing off these animals will affect the tourism dollars to Africa in the long term.
Many people incorrectly believe the poaching crisis had subsided, but in reality, there has been a major spike in the number of poaching incidents.
The New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman has been documenting this mass slaughter for years and attributes the spike to economic growth in Asia.
Even though many Asian economies are becoming more modern, their citizens still adhere to traditional beliefs.
“In many parts of Asia, ivory and rhino horn powder are valued for ceremonial purposes, for religious purposes, cultural purposes. And that is creating this huge demand for ivory and rhinoceros horn across Africa,” Gettleman told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview Wednesday. More....