Elephant survival is a global problem that needs global and local solutions

Asian Correspondents
4 May 2015

In 2012 and 2013, poachers killed 10% of the global population of forest elephants. 100,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks between 2010 and 2012. Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that 96 elephants are killed illegally every single day. Another conservation group, iWorry, once estimated that an elephant is killed every minute for its ivory — a total of 36,000 in 2012 alone.

Record-breaking ivory seizures

Thai customs officers recently seized a cache of 511 pieces of ivory that traffickers were attempting to smuggle from Kenya to Asia in containers marked “tea leaves”. The ivory, worth millions of dollars, was on its way to Laos, a centre for the illegal trade of banned exotic animal parts.

This latest seizure in Thailand comes less than a week after a recordfour tons of African ivory was confiscated by authorities at Bangkok’s main port on April 20. That ivory, originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was also headed towards Laos.

But Laos is not the main market for illegal ivory. According to the conservation organization Traffic, Laos is fast becoming the major point of transit for large shipments of illegal wildlife parts. The ivory that arrives there is then divided and sold on to buyers in China, Vietnam or even back in Thailand, where it could be bought under the impression that it is farmed Thai ivory, which is legal.

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