Tanzania is Starting to Make Headway Against Elephant Poaching
To effectively combat the illegal trade in ivory and protect elephant populations in Africa, you have to address both supply and demand. Over the last few decades much of the demand resulted from the use of ivory in traditional medicines and jewelry in Asia, especially China.
As China's economy grew since the 1990s, demand increased and criminal networks sprang up in Africa to slaughter elephants and export the ivory. As a result, elephant populations plunged. In 1930, there were as many as 10 million elephants across the continent, but because of habitat loss and illegal poaching their number has been reduced to about 415,000.
Some recent research and government data suggests we might be making some headway in addressing both the supply and demand elements of the poaching problem.
Elephant populations in Tanzania have begun to recover after that government cracked down on organized criminal networks involved in poaching.
Reuters: "A prominent Chinese businesswoman dubbed the “Ivory Queen” was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Tanzanian court in February for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia, marking a major victory for the government."
Because of such efforts to catch and convict poachers, Tanzania reported that's its elephant population grew from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 in 2019.
On the demand side, China's recent ban on the importation of ivory has forced the trade underground. Perhaps more importantly, China sponsored ads by actor Jackie Chan and basketball star Yao Ming condemning the use of ivory, and together these efforts seem to be working.
There's much more to do, and It's way too early to claim victory, but this recent news demonstrates that there's hope in saving the species from extinction.
By Don Lam & Curated Content