News / Africa

More Than 20,000 Elephants Poached In Africa Last Year

Journalists take pictures of the confiscated African ivory which will be destroyed as Hong Kong cracks down on an illegal wildlife trade that is devastating Africa's elephant population, Hong Kong, May 15, 2014.
Journalists take pictures of the confiscated African ivory which will be destroyed as Hong Kong cracks down on an illegal wildlife trade that is devastating Africa's elephant population, Hong Kong, May 15, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
A major wildlife conservation group reports more than 20,000 African elephants were poached across the African continent last year.  CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, warns that poaching contributes to the continuing decline in elephant populations.  

According to CITES, 2013 was the third year in a row more than 20,000 elephants have been killed across the African continent.  It says the sharp upward trend in illegal elephant killing observed since the mid-2000s peaked in 2011 and is leveling off.

But, CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon, says poaching levels remain alarmingly high.  He says Africa’s elephants continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high levels of poaching for their ivory.  

“We are still seeing the elephant populations in decline, which means that the levels of illegal killing are exceeding the natural birthrates.  But, overall, the population of the African elephant is in decline.  However…the upward trends we saw that became very sharp in 2010 and 2011 in terms of the levels of illegal killing have started to level off.  But, at a level that is far too high; namely we still have over 20,000 African elephants killed per year." said Scanlon.

The CITES report shows an increase in the number of large seizures of ivory made in 2013.  For the first time, the conservation group says more smuggled ivory was seized in Africa than in Asia, where the market for the illegal product is huge.

It says three African countries - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda - account for 80 percent of those seizures.  Scanlon says the large scale of the ivory seizures indicate transnational organized crime and rebel militia are involved in the illicit ivory trade.  He says this demands a stronger, more concerted response from the international community.

“This is a serious crime.  It needs to be treated as a serious crime and we need to deploy the same sorts of techniques that are used to combat other serious crimes, such as illicit trade in narcotics or human trafficking or illicit trade in arms," he said. "At one point of time, a seizure was seen as a success under CITES.  What we are saying is a seizure is not a success.  It is important.  It is a critical part of the process.  You have to go beyond the seizure.  And you have to go beyond the seizure to find actually who is at the end of that, who wanted that in the first place?  Who ordered that?  How do you catch them? "

CITES monitors 51 sites across Africa to keep tabs on illegal killing of elephants.  It finds the greatest increase in poaching was in Dzanga Sangha in Central African Republic.  On the other hand, it says poaching levels decreased substantially in parks in Chad, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Don from: Kenya
June 15, 2014 11:27 AM
China last reported 6 tons of confiscated ivory in January 2014. Instead of destroying the ivory, the Chinese Government should purchase the ivory and recompense the African wildlife conservation groups to support indigenous employment. Artisanal Ivory is a specialist Chinese classical industry and should be preserved using humane methods of production and supply. Continental Africans who use elephants, rhinos, primates and other bushmeat as a food source should be financially supported by China to manage co-operative 'farmed elephant and game meat products'. Just like the Africans, the Chinese are also adventurous food consumers.

by: Stephen
June 13, 2014 2:48 PM
This is a serious crime. It needs to be treated as such...........
Really Mr John Scanlon, dictators in African have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, CAR, Nigeria, to mention just a few. It appears elephants are more important that people, something you need to be aware of when talking about Africa.
In Response

by: Suebee from: Minneapolis, MN - USA
June 13, 2014 6:09 PM
Seriously Stephen - it is a horrific crime. Just because this article focuses on the thousands upon thousands of elephants being killed for ivory does not mean that anyone cares less about the people who have been murdered. Can't we care about more than one issue at a time??? Elephants are important as well as people. And they are on the verge of extinction due to the lust for money gained by killing these beautiful animals for their ivory..some people are brutes who care nothing for human life or lives of innocent animals. Please rethink your attitude and realize that it's okay for us to be upset over this terrible crime. I care about the people too, as I'm sure almost everyone does. It's important to bring all of the sad and horrible issues out in the open.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs