By Nicky Campbell
A heartbreaking catastrophe is unfolding in the great forests and on the savannahs of Africa.
Amid all the political instability and human suffering, people are waking up to the dreadful fact that if the current rate of elephant poaching continues, there will be next to no wild herds left by 2025.
Sir David Attenborough recently asked: “Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”
The most conservative estimates reckon 25,000 are being slaughtered annually for their tusks. There are just 400,000 left.
How on earth did we get here?
Despite the international ban on selling ivory there have been two “one-off” sales – the most recent to China and Japan in 2008.
An ever-growing Chinese middle class sees ivory as the ultimate status symbol and the demand is accelerating.
All for what? Trinkets, chopsticks, toothpicks and – how’s this for an obscene parody of beauty? – ivory carvings of elephants. Never in the field of human vanity have so many died for so very little.
The latest research on elephants makes this even more shocking. These remarkable animals challenge our assumptions of human “uniqueness”. More....