Kenya lost 88% of its’ elephant population from 1973-1987 (a decrease from 120,000 to 15,000).
After Kenya burned its ivory stockpiles in 1989, Ivory Trade was banned by the 175 member countries to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In 1997 they allowed a “one-off” sale of 40 tons of ivory from Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Poaching soared everywhere. In 2002 CITES agreed to another “one-off” sale adding in Zambia and South Africa to the other three countries allowed to sell ivory. In 2007 they increased the amount to 110 tons, but also agreed on a moratorium on any further requests for sales for 9 years.
It’s a very touchy subject, and one that continues to cause concern. At each CITES convention, some African countries lobby to open
ivory trade. The truth is, as soon as people start considering ivory trade, even just talking about voting on it, elephant poaching goes way up. It’s as if everyone wants to get as much ivory as they can for what they think is the inevitable day the trade returns – or the last elephant has died – whichever comes first.
In 2011, an average of 100 elephants were killed per day for ivory, making it the worst year in history for elephants.
The African elephant could become extinct in the wild by 2025, according to renowned Conservation Biologist Sam Wasser. Ivory is the goal, and the markets are thriving in the Far East, fuelled by growing economies in those areas. In addition, China has a growing presence in Kenya building roads – investing in the growing economy.
Given the seeming impossibility of stopping the markets, we believe that making local residents aware of what they stand to lose if they lose their elephants is the best way to slow down and hopefully stop this disaster. Poachers must move through communities surrounding National Parks, and if those communities are vigilant, they report them to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) or the police in hopes to stop them.
The communities can protect their elephants!