Elephant herds once roamed all across Africa and Asia. A massive decline in elephant numbers occurred in the 20th and 21st century largely due to trade in ivory. Only about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants are left the wild today. It is estimated that 20.000 elephants are killed every year to supply the illegal ivory market. If this trend continues, elephants will soon become extinct.
There is a growing awareness of the threat faced by elephants and many countries have destroyed their ivory stockpiles by burning or crushing to keep the ivory out of economic use. Some of the largest domestic markets like China and the United States have shut down. Despite this efforts large consignments of illegal ivory are still being shipped with seizures occurring regularly in Asia. The problem with ivory is that there aren’t enough elephants left in the wild to meet the insatiable demand for ivory in the world.
Winnie Kiiru is a well-known wildlife biologist who has been working to protect Kenya’s wildlife for the last 20 years. She is regional technical advisor for Stop Ivory, an independent non-government organization which aims to protect elephants and stop the ivory trade by implementing the Elephant Protection Initiative. She previously served as the regional representative of the UK based charity, Born Free Foundation and as a Trustee of Kenya Wildlife Service.
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