China: 100,000 Elephants Slaughtered Amid Ivory Craze

Conservationists in China estimate 100,000 elephants were slaughtered amid an ongoing ivory craze. Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton said the brutal practice could force the magnificent creatures into extinction.

Although China law prohibits smuggling and selling ivory the laws are rarely enforced. In a joint report, Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation determined that 100,000 elephants were slaughtered between 2010 and 2014. The organizations blame an ever-increasing demand for ivory products.

According to a recent report, “the wholesale price of raw tusks has tripled in just four years.” In 2010, wholesale ivory sold for an estimated $125 per pound. By 2013, the price increased to $900 per pound.

The number of ivory processing plants and retail outlets have also increased to meet the demand. In 2013 the organizations identified 156 retail outlets specializing in ivory products and 37 processing plants. However, the authors of the report believe the real numbers are much higher.

“… much greater quantities of ivory are being traded in China than are being accounted for as they are not going into the licensed retail outlets. The amount of ivory items on open display in the retail outlets in China… is just the tip of the iceberg compared with sales of illegal ivory occurring elsewhere in the country.”

Although the report suggests existing laws are “not being adequately enforced,” authorities have closed up to 10 production facilities and retail outlets. As a result, hundreds of dealers and dozens of smugglers were convicted and sentenced to live in prison.

Despite their efforts to enforce the laws, conservation groups said the government is simply not doing enough to protect the elephants from extinction. Both Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation blame China, as 100,000 elephants were brutally killed to meet their increasing demands. As reported by CNN, China remains “the world’s largest consumer of ivory.”

If the trend continues, Douglas-Hamilton said “African elephants could disappear from the wild within a generation.”

In their detailed report the organizations acknowledge that “China faces enormous challenges in law enforcement to control the ivory trade.” However, they underline the fact that “China has the capacity to reduce elephant poaching” by increasing enforcement of the existing laws.

“… by cutting down demand for ivory in the country, tackling ivory smuggling from Africa to China, combating the sale of illegal ivory both in retail outlets and through the social network.”

The conservation organizations hope the new data will increase awareness. Officials in China have not commented on claims that 100,000 elephants were slaughtered to meet their country’s increasing demand for ivory.

[Image via Luxesoul]