Elephant poaching in Africa falls but ivory seizures up: study

October 24, 2017
Continent-wide, Botswana has the most number of elephants, while populations in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda
Continent-wide, Botswana has the most number of elephants, while populations in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda are holding steady or climbing

Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a fifth straight year in 2016 but seizures of illegal ivory hit records highs, the CITES monitor said Tuesday, calling it a "conflicting phenomena".

In its latest report, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also noted that despite the overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has continued to drop "due to continued illegal killing, land transformation and rapid human expansion."

Global trade has remained relatively stable for six years, CITES reported.

But 2016 saw a full 40 tonnes of illegal ivory seized, the most since 1989, as well as the hightest-ever number of "large-scale ivory seizures", the group said.

"The overall weight of seized ivory in is now nearly three times greater than what was observed in 2007", CITES added in a statement.

That could be a result of increasing vigilance among border guards and "scaled up enforcement", said CITES secretary general John Scanlon.

But Scanlon also speculated that the prospect of tougher enforcement along with the widening trend of countries moving to ban ivory may have had a ripple effect across the black market.

"International syndicates behind this poaching and smuggling may be involved in a panic sell-off as they realise that speculating on extinction was a bad bet, with the an ever-increasing risk of getting caught," Scanlon was quoted as saying.

Multiple studies from civil society groups have reported a 50 percent drop in prices in recent years, according to CITES.

The outlook for elephant populations across Africa is mixed, according to the report.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has previously found that Africa's elephant numbers fell by 111,000 between 2006 and 2015.

But according to CITES, the population in southern Africa and much of East Africa is now either stable or increasing.

Continent-wide, Botswana has the most number of , while populations in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda are holding steady or climbing.

Illegal elephant killings however remain high in Central Africa, home to chronically restive countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, where weak conservation efforts have failed to stem poaching.

CITES monitors the international anti-trafficking agreement among countries that came into force in 1975 and has now been joined by 183 state parties.

Explore further: Study: 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

Related Stories

Study: 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

June 13, 2014

(AP)—More than 20,000 elephants were poached last year in Africa where large seizures of smuggled ivory eclipsed those in Asia for the first time, international wildlife regulators said Friday.

Zimbabwe, Namibia to push for ivory trade

October 3, 2016

Southern African countries will Monday fight for permission to sell their ivory stockpiles, as an international wildlife conference debates how best to regulate the often illegal trade and protect Africa's elephants.

Wildlife meeting weighs how to save endangered species

September 24, 2016

Thousands of conservationists and government officials open talks in Johannesburg on Saturday to thrash out regulating international trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and hundreds of endangered wild animals and plants.

Recommended for you

Cellular microRNA detection with miRacles

March 26, 2019

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding regulatory RNAs that can repress gene expression post-transcriptionally and are therefore increasingly used as biomarkers of disease. Detecting miRNAs can be arduous and expensive as ...

What happened before the Big Bang?

March 26, 2019

A team of scientists has proposed a powerful new test for inflation, the theory that the universe dramatically expanded in size in a fleeting fraction of a second right after the Big Bang. Their goal is to give insight into ...

Probiotic bacteria evolve inside mice's GI tracts

March 26, 2019

Probiotics—which are living bacteria taken to promote digestive health—can evolve once inside the body and have the potential to become less effective and sometimes even harmful, according to a new study from Washington ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.