China’s demand for ivory is growing and so are the number of elephants being poached to meet that demand. According to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, 100,000 elephants have been slain to meet Chinese ivory demand in the last three years alone, a situation that could easily lead to African elephants disappearing within the next generation. China is the world’s largest consumer of ivory and prices are accelerating quickly as more consumers clamor for ivory products. While ivory sales are regulated in China, they are hardly enforced and nearly all ivory shops are illegal.
According to Time Magazine, the figures are staggering. Researchers from Save the Elephants and the Aspinall Foundation found that “every metric on the ivory trade has exploded upwards in recent years,” from the price of raw ivory to the number of factories and retail outlets. “All have shot up,” the report says. In 2002, there were 5,241 elephant ivory goods on sale in Beijing and Shanghai. But in 2014, that number had risen to 8,444. A decade ago, there were 9 factories and 31 authorized ivory retail outlets in China. By 2013, the researchers found, there were 37 factories and 145 retail outlets.
A world without African elephants is hard to imagine, but that’s right where we’re headed if demand for ivory isn’t immediately curtailed. While elephants may never forget, how soon will the world forget them if they pass from existence?
Images via Wikimedia Commons