There are an estimated 410,000 to 650,000 elephants roaming our planet. Although this sounds like a large population, between 30,000 and 50,000 die each year at the hands of poachers. This threatens their existence and, at a rate of one killing each 15 minutes, they face extinction.
As the illegal ivory trade grows, wildlife officials, governments, and conservation groups are increasing their efforts to protect elephants by deploying anti-poaching drones, by improving their elephant count accuracy, and by increasing security for wildlife rangers.
Environmental Investigation Agency, a United Kingdom–based conservation group, has created a new tool to assist agencies and citizens to understand the global scale of these threats with visuals, as they’ve created a map that pinpoints the location of each large-scale ivory seizure in the world. This includes more than 1,100 pounds of elephant tusks that have been seized between 2000 and 2015. A reported 117 seizures during this period has resulted in the recovery of an estimated 465,000 pounds of ivory —equivalent to approximately 31,000 slaughtered elephants.
The orange circles, sized by weight of ivory seized, display all of the seizures recorded. The green circles depict where country officials have conducted forensic analysis on the seized ivory, taking DNA samples to identify the region where the elephant tusks originated. The black circles represent every theft reported from a government-owned ivory stockpile within the past 15 years.
EIA’s senior wildlife campaign officer, Shruti Suresh, stated that the map shows the full scope of the situation, and that only 18 ivory seizures have been given forensic analysis, such as using DNA used to determine the exact locations in Africa and Asia where these events take place. “The seizure is only part of the enforcement. DNA analysis could help countries determine where ivory has been seized from, identify the poaching hot spots—the origin of the ivory—and help in planning anti-poaching operations, identifying trade routes, and enforcing cooperation between countries.”
EIA hopes that the new maps will maintain to keep the pressure on these countries to do more follow-up work on their ivory seizures.
“Right now, seizures are proclaimed as sort of a success—which it can be, but a seizure in itself is not an enforcement success,” Suresh continued. “There needs to be an investigation into its origin, an arrest, and prosecution, which leads to a conviction and a meaningful sentencing.”
Source: Take Part