Elephants face extinction if Beijing does not ban ivory trade

Original source: Daily Mail

China needs to act now on the country’s illegal ivory trade to stop elephants becoming extinct, according to one conservationist.


China accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s trade in elephant tusks, with many bound for the country intercepted by customs officials in Hong Kong

Joyce Poole, co-director of Elephant Voices, said the creatures had experienced their worst year in history, with more than 7 per cent killed for their tusks in only a year.

She called for China to tackle the country’s appetite for ivory to save the remaining 400,000 elephants from extinction, and said the species would be extinct within a decade if poaching continued at the current rate.

Nearly 40,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year, Poole told thSouth China Morning Post.

‘It’s either China does something, or we lose the elephants. It’s that big,’ she said.

‘If we can’t even save the elephants – such an iconic keystone animal, important to the African habitat – then what hope do we have?’

Ivory is known as ‘white gold’ in China, she said, and is symbol of wealth and status.

A worldwide ban on ivory was imposed in 1989, with two sanctioned sales of stock to China and Japan in 1999 and 2007.

Hong Kong customs officials have seized at least 16 tonnes of ivory worth HK$87million (more than £7million) bound for China in the past five years – which would require the tusks of 1,800 elephants, the paper reported.

About 93 per cent of elephant carcasses have been found to have been killed by poachers, said Poole, who has researched elephants for 40 years.

One elephant would earn an African poacher the same as a typical annual salary, she told the newspaper.

I think many people don’t know that you can’t get the tusks [for ivory] without killing the elephants,’ Poole said.

‘[Beijing is] still in denial that they have any part to play. Ivory isn’t worth much to the [Chinese] economy, but losing the elephants will make a huge difference to African countries.’ – Daily Mail

Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • China acts like it is the only nation on this planet. If this were the prescious panda we were talking about, there’d be no discussion! China needs to realize that more people value animals ALIVE than dead and on a key chain. WAKE UP CHINA! There are other people in the world who want to see these animals ALIVE AND THRIVING in their natural habitats. Demand harsher punishments for poaching! Demand that ivory stockpiles be BURNED not sold! Only elephants wear ivory! Go to: http://www.iworry.org/ and see how YOU can HELP!

    • Jeff Nadler

      What is your organization doing to directly educate the Chinese people? Do you have a campaign in place within China, in Chinese? That’s what’s needed.

    • Sean

      it is quite interesting if you realize that 70% savannah elephants are actually facing the problem of overabundant.


    A disgusting attitude… slaughter theses beautiful animals it´s a crime !!
    We together can make the difference for banning of this action !!
    Support the WWF and rise our voices in protest in favor of those who are suffering such cruelty in the hands of the CHINESE … :((

    • pax

      A far greater issue is the loss of natural habitat – large elephant populations in northern Botswana are turning the area into a ‘moonscape’. Starvation is a far harsher way to go.

      • Nick

        Dear Pax – Defining ‘moonscape’ is at the base of the problem with the idea of culling. Reversing human encroachment on habitat, where feasible – and safeguarding the previously used migratory routes used by keystone species such as elephant, enabling them to use their traditional feeding cells, that is really where the answers are.

        Placing the responsibility of “balancing the environment” through culling – in the hands of humans who are unavoidably all corruptible, is not the way forward. The sentiment of saving the elephants from themselves and starvation is also erroneous and doesn’t help the debate. I appreciate where you are coming from, I really do, I know first hand what you are talking about. It turns out one argument touted as sound today, falls flat on if face tomorrow.

        As bravely pointed out in this great talk given by Allan Savoury about fighting desertification and climate change. Savoury was one of the first proponents to advocate elephant culling in Zimbabwe; research that lead to neighbouring states adopting similar stances and who accepted the logic. Today Allan Savoury admits that it was ‘the saddest blunder of his life’. His work and recommendations lead to the extermination of 40 000 head of elephant. “Controlling” elephant, is such an emotive subject which sparks a myriad of experts from different fields to jump up and passionately suggest different solutions – each claiming to know better than the other.

        From the hunting concessionaire with a vested economic interest – who puts forward an argument that ‘the wildlife must pay for itself’, to the greeny environmentalist who means well, but hasn’t quite figured out Africa yet – there’s a rabble of thousands out there all expertly telling us how to manage the problem. I eventually reached the conclusion that we humans are simply not responsible enough to make the judgment call on culling. If you look into the topic deeply enough you could only reach the same conclusion. Culling is a heavy handed approach to sorting out a delicate problem, like taking a stereo to the black smith and asking him to hammer it into working again. We need far better ways than this.

        This old idea of land management with these notions of elephant controle, is as detrimental to the fate of the elephant as Chinese demand for ivory. I include here a link to a talk by Allan Savoury. Salams N

        http://www.ted.com/talk /allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

  • Cedric

    How would the Chinese authorities feel if all of a sudden poachers went in and started poaching Pandas for their fur? Would they tolerate it? They could easily be wiped out in a very short space of time. However, they are aware that that no western country would lower themselves to such low levels. Why can’t the Chinese and other orientals respect western wishes?

    • blueworld

      Pandas do not exist in the wild, as far as I know. Sad to say.

  • Fambly kittens


  • Elephant lover

    What are the Chinese going to do when they have killed all the elephants and rhino, which animal are they going to go after next. The Chinese government has got to WAKE UP and stop this happening, there is nothing to compare with seeing these animals in the wild which I have been lucky to do, but my grandchildrens children probably wont be able to. Sometimes its a dreadful world we live in.

  • Renay mitchell

    These people who have no regard for the life of our precious animals should be facing the death penalty. China needs to show more respect for other countries and their animals. Why is it that the Chinese government think they have a right to such unacceptable behaviour.

  • CatClawz

    This slant-eyed subhuman vermin cockroach nation needs to be exterminated completely – these vile cretins need to be poached into extinction so that our animals lives can be spared. I hate the Chinese race intensely.

  • Jeff Nadler

    The primary problem is the lack of education in China of the impact of the desire to own ivory. I know some people in China and once they learned the truth, they were horrified and shunned the thought of purchasing ivory. A massive education campaign within China by the environmental community is what is needed.

  • Julian

    I think changing the way people thinking is an incredibly difficult task. Maybe we need to focus on channeling those funds, effort and time into stopping it happening on the ground. Especially at the rate we are going now, do have the time to educate the consumer ?

    Here is an article that should be read if you have the time.

  • Ken Watkins

    What a load of nonsense, there is more than enough Ivory from naturally dead Elephants to satisfy the demand from all of the countries that carve ivory, NOT JUST CHINA!

    Bit of course saying this does not allow a nice life using other peoples donations!

    Try keeping up to date with the actual science rather than believe these self interested “do-gooders”

    Try reading John Frederick Walker’s latest article, a real experts work!


  • Cristina

    I don’t understand how in the face of the sad true if elephants facing extinction the government of South Africa at least allows trophy hunting of elephants and rhinos. Which makes me think it’s all a hypocrisy about saving these magnificent animals, so it’s OK to kill them as long as people pay their fee to local businesses and government, the point is that poachers don’t pay. Yes Beijing should be doing everything to stop the ivory and rhino trade but Africa should also stop the legal killing of wildlife. It’s disgusting to see wildlife treated as renewal commodities instead of living and valuable beings.

  • be aware

    MAGGIE MARQUES i would like to correct one word you used if you dont mind. “CHINESE” i believe you should change it to “HUMANS”. THANKS:D

    • blueworld

      I agree – we all have a hand in this. Some more than others, but still we are all guilty.

  • blueworld

    Nature will have to find a way to protect itself. There are just too many people on the planet, using the resources, killing the animals, polluting everything. There is no respect for our world. No honour left in this technological age. It’s all greed, power hungry, and what does one gain from control over other’s, nothing, you still die. And it seems we want to take our world with us. I am ashamed to be human. Sure, we have art, music, science, but what is noble about that? Nothing, if we are allowing the extinction of a beautiful species such as the elephant who cannot protect itself against our guns.

  • britt

    stop this cruelitty u people are insane let the elephants be!!!!

    • Sean

      it is quite interesting if you love elephants you should have realized that 70% savannah elephants are actually facing the problem of overabundant.

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