If People Keep Killing Them For Ivory, Elephants Could Be Extinct In 6 Years

Alexia LaFata

Ivory is a luxurious good that’s made into hair pins, jewelry, chopsticks and more — however, it’s leading to the extinction of elephants.

Over 35,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory in 2013. Ivory is often crafted into precious gift items and exported to other countries, used for trading in places like Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore and various parts of Asia. The demand for it is rising, too.

Conservationist Rory Young, who’s been fighting against poaching for years, admits that ivory is indeed beautiful, but, “the problem is, we just can’t do this anymore.”

The slaughtering of elephants for ivory is proving detrimental to the species’ existence.

If poaching persists, conservationists warned us in 2008, African elephants would become completely extinct by 2020. If the animals are left alone, their population could rise again.

With this rate of slaughter, though, African elephants could certainly be gone within the next six years.

Poachers are ruthless. At times equipped with machine guns, poachers’ strategies are truly unforeseeable: Sometimes they’ll shoot the elephants, sometimes they’ll trap them with snares, and sometimes they’ll even poison them.

Young says,

In well-funded, ‘celebrity-endorsed’ places like parts of Kenya and South Africa, poaching is bad enough, but if you look at other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, et cetera, elephants are just being wiped out.

These are the countries that are absolutely desperate, and what I’m trying to do and what Chengeta is trying to do is to bring training to the guys there — or the elephants will all soon be gone.

Young travels across Africa with a group he cofounded, Chengeta Wildlife, to train rangers and connect with governments, convincing them to involve themselves in campaigns against poaching.

Saving the creatures he calls “magnificent” and “self-aware” is a challenging task, but one that must be done.

H/T: Huffington Post, Photo Credit: Getty Images

Alexia LaFata


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