11,000 elephants killed in Gabon since 2004
Increasing prosperity in China, and a large influx of Chinese workers and investors throughout Africa, has sent demand for african ivory soaring. (Ivan Lieman/AFP/Getty Images)
Is it possible for 11,000 elephants to be slaughtered in just eight years? Or about 50 to 100 elephants daily?
It is, as a survey from Wildlife Conservation Society indicates. Released on Wednesday, it says Gabon’s Minkebe National Park has lost almost two-thirds of its total elephants due to the deadly ivory poaching.
Gabon, perched on the west coast of central Africa, was believed to be a relatively safe sanctuary for pachyderms. But for the past year or so, significant human activity was detected in the national park, according to Science Daily. And as the survey found, a gigantic number of elephants had been killed as a result of the demand for ivory in Asia.
Since the survey result was announced, reports say that Gabon has stepped up its anti-poaching efforts. It seized 20 tusks in the nation’s capital of Libreville and arrested poachers who had illegally entered from neighbouring Cameroon.
A BBC report quoted an activist saying the situation was “out of control.”
Africa’s elephant population has shrunk dramatically since 1979, largely due to ivory
poaching. There were an estimated 1.3 million elephants in Africa in 1979; now, there are about 600,000, according to reports.
A global ivory ban was enacted in 1989 but does not seem to have deterred poachers. There is an extensive demand for elephant tusks in countries like China, Thailand, and the Philippines where people of different religions believe ivory honours God.
Gabon was once home to Africa’s largest elephant population. It is not clear which country is now.
Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star’s environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh