ILLEGAL trade in ivory has seen Africa losing elephants at a very high rate, with latest data from the United Nations showing about 60 percent of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning the overall population is most likely to be falling.The illegal wildlife trade, according to the United National is among the five most lucrative illegal trades internationally, worth up to an estimated $20 billion annually.
The new report revealed that a “troubling” upward trend in elephant poaching was observed in the Kruger national park in South Africa for the first time in 2015. The proportion of elephants killed by poaching jumped from 17 percent in 2014 to 41 percent last year.
“While (this) is still below the sustainability threshold, the substantial increase in what had been one of the most secure sites for elephants in Africa is a cause for concern,” said the report.
In January, poachers shot down a helicopter in Tanzania and killed its British pilot during an operation to track down elephant killers. Last year, dozens of elephants were poisoned by cyanide in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, according to authorities.
According to CITES, the killing of African elephants and trafficking in their ivory remain alarmingly high. Asian elephants are also subject to growing levels of poaching.
It said at least 20 000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed on a resolution to limit illicit trafficking in wildlife.
“These powerful expressions of political determination to end these highly destructive crimes are now being translated into actions on the ground through collective efforts by countries around the world,” US secretary general Ban Ki-moon said.
Elephant poaching peaked in 2011, when it accounted for about 75 percent of all deaths. Poaching has gradually reduced since then but remains well above sustainable levels. – Business Reporter/Wires.