There were once an estimated 360 species of elephants on the planet. Today, there are only three. Of the remaining species, all three are endangered. Researchers have warned that by the year 2020, there could be no elephants left in the wild. (WWF) We run the risk of losing them forever. And yet, although they are a universal symbol of wildlife diversity, they continue to be hunted for their flesh, hide, tusks and ears. Between 1979 and 1989, worldwide demand for ivory caused elephant populations to decline to dangerously low levels. During this time period, poaching fueled by ivory sales cut Africa's elephant population in half. Since they were big targets and sported the largest tusks, Savannah elephants took the worst hit. But as soon as these elephants began to vanish, hunters moved into the forests in search of the elephants' smaller kin, the forest elephant. “In 1977, 1.3 million elephants lived in Africa; by 1997, only 600,000 remained.” (PBS)
Though poaching has long been a problem in central Africa, the introduction of well-funded poaching organizations with advanced weaponry to the continent has caused the poaching problem to escalate. Poachers from these organizations are heavily armed and dangerous to both animals and humans. Common materials poached from animals include hides, meat, furs, horns and tusks, all of which receive a high price in markets throughout the world.
As long as ivory trading allures poachers with high profits, elephants will continue to be hunted and killed. These killings have decimated the historic populations of African elephants, and if it is not stopped, it could eventually lead to a total loss of wild elephants. Can you imagine Africa without the elephants? How ruthless and greedy can a person be to be able to pull the trigger and kill these magnificent, peace-loving animals?
Current efforts are not enough to stop elephant poaching in Africa, and I strongly believe that animal poaching in Africa will...