HUMANS ARE THE BIGGEST THREAT TO AFRICA’S WILDLIFE
the energy, food and financial needs of our species pit us against various flora and fauna in our complex ecosystems. But human encroachment on habitats and migration routes is not the only way we are facing off with wildlife. Humans are also actively wiping out iconic species like the elephant, lion and rhino by turning them into commodities.
Only three years ago, the tusks of one elephant could fetch up to USD 300,000. The price had tripled following once-off sales of ivory stockpiles to Japan and China in 1999 and 2008 as well as the downlisting of the species to Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The move allowed limited trade of ivory and triggered a surge in poaching on the continent, reversing the conservation gains made since the banning of international ivory trade in 1989.
The market had shifted over the years, and more buyers were investing in raw ivory to carve luxury collectibles and trinkets as part of China’s cultural heritage. Although the price of ivory is dropping now that China banned ivory sales and processing, we are still losing elephants at an alarming rate. An average of 96 elephants die every day, and each tusk continues to fuel a global web of organised crime. Elephants are not the only victims of a growing international industry of legal— and illegal—wildlife goods. The African