A new study warns that the slaughter of African elephants, permitted by African governments and fueled by the market for ivory in Asia, could lead to the extermination of the animal in the wild within a few years.
Africa’s elephant population is estimated at 400,000. The study by the National Academy of Sciences reports that 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012, and that the rate of illegal killing has increased by 25 percent over the past decade. Absent meaningful steps to curb poaching, most African elephants could be gone by the next decade.
Chinese and other Asian buyers are willing to pay ever-rising prices for ivory. Most governments in African countries with elephants are unable or unwilling to protect them adequately. Dealers offer large amounts of money to officials to look the other way or even to collaborate on transporting tusks.
The extermination of elephants, unless halted immediately, will be another blot on the record of African governments.