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The Fight Continues to End the Slaughter of African Elephants

WCN Elephants in motion--cropped

Credit: Wildlife Conservation Network

In June of this year, Kenyan conservationists announced that poachers in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park had killed a 45-year-old iconic elephant for his tusks, adding to the alarming toll of elephant loss in 2014. Experts predict that unless the hunt for ivory by wildlife traffickers ends, the extinction of the African elephant may happen within decades.

Tuesday, August 12, World Elephant Day, reminds us that we all play a role in saving the African elephant. And, despite recent losses, experts point to some successes in the global fight to save the elephant.

Last year saw the greatest quantity of ivory confiscated than in the last 25 years, and levels are high in 2014.

Recently, progress has been made in changing attitudes about ivory use in China, the world’s largest market for ivory. Thanks to celebrities likeYao Ming, Jackie Chan, David Beckham and Prince William, the Chinese people are learning about the need to stop buying ivory trinkets and sculptures.

Chinese government policy is also shifting. During 2014, China destroyed a 6-ton stockpile of ivory, and in May authorities in Hong Kong began destroying 30 tons of ivory seized from smugglers.

Although experts from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are heartened by a slight decline in elephant slaughter in the last three years, the numbers remain dangerously high. John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites, believes progress has been made but more needs to be done.

“The momentum generated over the past three years must now translate into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the frontline, where it is needed most – from the field, to customs, to illicit markets, and only then can we hope to reverse the devastating poaching trends of the past decade,” he said.

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Take the pledge!

We all can can play a role in saving the African elephant.  Join Aid for Africa and our member organizations Wildlife Conservation Network and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to help end the slaughter. Here are some things you can do: