Sources: ABC News, Planetark.org, Washington Post, Fox News, SocialPsy, New York Times
Editor’s Note: Some ask why poachers have to mutilate these innocent creatures, in what must be a tortuous slow death, to get at the tusks? The answer is in the price of ivory, the highest being in China, of up to $1000 PER POUND. Poachers are not going to leave behind thousands of dollars just because it’s embedded in the skull.
Poachers killed a FAMILY of 11 elephants (including children) in the biggest single mass shooting of the animals on record in Kenya, wildlife officials said on Monday.
A gang of about 10 attackers hacked off the elephants’ tusks in Tsavo East National Park on Saturday, officials said – the latest sign of a resurgence of mostly Asian demand for ivory jewelry and ornaments.
“(It) shows the great lengths these criminal cartels are ready to go to get ivory. It’s really tragic,” Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udo told Reuters via Twitter.
He said it was the worst single incident of its kind recorded in the East African country. Elephant poaching in Kenya declined sharply after 1989 when the government banned trade in ivory. But there has been a rise in the illegal practice in recent years.
The Kenya Wildlife Service said foot, dog and aerial units were hunting a gang. “The entire family of 11 elephants have been confirmed poached and tusks chopped off. All the carcasses had bullet wounds,” the service said in a statement.
In May, 359 tusks weighing 1.6 tonnes impounded in Sri Lanka were found to have come from Kenya’s Mombasa port.
Police found 214 tusks worth $1.32 million hidden in a coffin and fertilizer bags in neighboring Tanzania in October. The force said smugglers had planned to transport the ivory to Kenya for onward shipment to Asia. When seized, the elephants’ tusks are burned so that they cannot make their way back to the market.
According to Feng You Min, sales director at the Daxin Ivory Carving Factory, “the price of raw ivory has risen to 20 times the price paid in Africa. The genie cannot be returned to her bottle: The 2008 legalized ivory will forever shelter smuggled ivory.”
(note many others at desks doing the same)
The vast majority of the illegal ivory — experts say as much as 70 percent — is flowing to China, and though the Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries, never before have so many of them been able to afford it. China’s economic boom has created a vast middle class, pushing the price of ivory to a stratospheric $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing.
“A sculpture like this can take a master carver years to produce. Front and center are the popular Taoist gods Shou, Lu, and Fu—symbols of long life, money, and luck. “We hope—no, we insist—we can continue to protect these skills,” says Wang Shan, secretary-general of the China Arts and Crafts Association.“
Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say.
High-ranking officers in the People’s Liberation Army have a fondness for ivory trinkets as gifts. Chinese online forums offer a thriving, and essentially unregulated, market for ivory chopsticks, bookmarks, rings, cups and combs, along with helpful tips on how to smuggle them (wrap the ivory in tinfoil, says one Web site, to throw off X-ray machines).
Last year, more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa, from Kenya to Nigeria, for smuggling ivory. And there is growing evidence that poaching increases in elephant-rich areas where Chinese construction workers are building roads.
MUST SEE VIDEO. This is what its come to for these majestic creatures and the humans who fight for them. In another national park: Heavily armed platoons of rangers at Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo wage war against elephant poachers.