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100 Elephants Killed Daily To Meet Illegal Ivory Demand, Chinese Appetite Whetted

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Profile of elephants for article about Chinese demand for ivory driving elephants to extinction

The “mysterious link” between elephant poaching and Chinese workers in Kenya

Information linking elephant killings in Kenya with Chinese workers has recently made its way to the surface. The slaughtered elephants have all had their tusks hacked out – a sure sign of ivory poaching.

What’s going on?

The effects of the CITES-sanctioned auction are likely at fault: The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has strongly opposed any type of ivory trade with China, stating that the legal auction would encourage Chinese demand. Patrick Ormandi, KWS Head of Species and Conservation Management, confirmed that there has been a surge of elephant killings.

Last year we lost 98 elephants to poachers and up to today, this year, we have lost up to 73 elephants. This is a big worry and all this is stimulated because there was an experiment to trade.

KWS also suspects it is more than a “coincidence” that a large number of elephant killings have occurred in areas where Chinese crews have recently arrived for massive construction projects.

Moses Litoroh, KWS elephant program coordinator, noted an unusually close proximity between the elephant killings and areas where the Chinese newcomers are working.

More than 50 per cent of the dead elephants we have found have been in that area in the north where the Chinese are working on the road. We can perhaps assume that they have had a hand in it, maybe not all of them, but the coincidence is causing us great concern.

Earlier this year, Wildlife Direct’s Paula Kahumbu told Reuters she also believes there is a link between some of the Chinese in Africa and the rising elephant slaughter.

We’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of poaching. We believe it is primarily due to the fact that the ivory sale last November has actually stimulated the markets …

There’s a massive influx of people, who are not very wealthy, who can afford to buy ivory at local prices and who make a lot of money out of it when they get it back to China.

And yet another issue has connected China to elephant poaching: Ivory smuggling.

Increasing links between ivory smuggling and China

The Telegraph UK reported late last year that “the majority of ivory smugglers arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi are now Chinese Nationals.”

Authorities also believe that the July seizure of an illegal shipment of elephant ivory and rhino horn in Laos was en route to China.

Paula Kahumbu points out that the problem is even more widespread.

It (should) not be easy to move a container load of ivory from a country to another when there are such strict regulations. It means there is facilitation going on.

Suspicious coincidences

One “suspicious coincidence” after another seems to link China to the elephant poaching crisis. And of course, in an absurd PR scramble, China has “officially denied” any links to elephant poaching.

It’s time to stop dancing around this issue and pretending there is some sort of “mystery” behind the slaughter of Africa’s elephants: China absolutely must be held accountable for its role in elephant poaching.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

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