Do African elephants stand a chance against poaching?

Photo Credit: World Atlas

Mozambique is a southern African nation is known for its beaches, beauty and sadly also elephant poaching. Since 2010 nearly 10,000 African elephants have been poached annually. Where once there used to be tens and thousands of elephants roaming freely in the Niassa Reserve in northern Mozambique there are now fewer than 2000.

What is poaching? It is a deadly crime against animal wildlife. Often wild animals are hunted as a sport or hobby but also for their fur or body parts, which are then bought and sold as trophies. Examples of this are rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks both of which are desired for ornamental as well as medicinal purposes.

Who buys ivory? Ivory is the material you get from the tusks of elephants. The highest demand for it in the world comes from China where people use it in traditional medicines and also consider it a mark of wealth.

Photo Credit: South China Morning Post; A customs officer stands guard next to seized elephant ivory tusks

Due to the terrible impact the ivory trade has had on the elephant population, last January China passed a law that makes trading in ivory products illegal.

Though this is a move in the correct direction, the poaching of elephants has not stopped. In fact in mid-April authorities found 877 pieces of ivory in a container in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Authorities believe 433 elephants would have been killed to acquire that much ivory.

The poaching continues largely due to corruption but also because poachers are unaware about the law China passed.

We all know killing an elephant is bad, so then why would someone do it? The people who hunt these beautiful animals do so because they are very, very poor and desperate. It is often the only way for them to feed their families. They lack basic education as well as a means to earn honestly.

As bleak as this sounds there are organizations such as Save the Elephant and the International Elephant Foundation working to put an end to elephant poaching as well as to help educate and aid the poachers to stop doing so.

Donations are one way to help these organizations another is by creating awareness about the important work they do — by talking to your friends and families about it.

Photo Credit: Alekha Choksey

Written by: Tanika Thacker. Tanika is a writer by day and a foodie by night. She lives in San Francisco and nothing makes her happier than ice-cream on a cold, rainy afternoon. You can follow her meanderings on @tanikathacker and @boozefoodlatitude

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