The end of elephants?

By Colin Ricketts - 04 Jul 2014 8:19:0 GMT
The end of elephants?

African tourism to see the families of elephants intact, or trekking with elephants in Northern Thailand would seem a much preferable habit for people of any nation, rather than collecting their ivory; Waterhole image; Credit: © Shutterstock

With the rise in ivory prices in China, today’s news of unregulated Thai markets gives a horrific new insight into why so many African elephants, mainly Loxodonta africana are being killed. In a monthly monitoring by TRAFFIC, the World Wildlife Fund report that ivory trading in Bangkok has trebled over just 18 months :- Polishing Off the Ivory: Surveys of Thailand's Ivory Market. Many more Bangkok outlets are also selling ivory this year.

In January 2013, 5,865 worked ivory items were found, but in May 2014, there were 14,512 ivory products. With the Thai government currently in the hands of the army, the limited legislation over ivory in Thailand is being flaunted the vast majority of items sold is illegal under international commitments by the country.

Next weekend, CITES (the Commission on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora meets in Geneva. Countries such as Thailand and Vietnam will have to account for their failure to put promises into action. They seem to be conduits for ivory to reach China from ports in Cameroon and many other African sources of poached elephant ivory.

The poor old domestic Asian elephant, Elephas maximus in Thailand could contribute only 650kg a year, which is much less than the mass of ivory on sale. 13 tonnes of African ivory have been seized in Thailand in 6 years, but obviously much more is being allowed through Bangkok. The trade in poached elephant ivory exits only in one or two nations on either side of the Indian Ocean. Can we stop their short-sighted trading, or will the extinction of these species be upon us very quickly? With the death of Satao here - Elephant king is killed , we perhaps reported one of the last Kenyan "tuskers."