White Gold Elephant Death
After years in decline, elephant poaching is back. Huge increases in the price of ivory has left Africa reluctant to clamp down. Yet if poaching continues, elephants will be extinct by 2020.
Orphaned by poachers, a baby elephant lies dead in the road. Now the elephant death rate from poaching is higher than the death rate that led to the ivory trade ban 20 years ago. "Everybody has a weapon", says Andy, head of an anti-poaching team, "it's very risky because these people will shoot." The poachers Andy refers to are mostly desperate Africans, badly affected by the recent drought: "I shoot at the elephant's rib cage. It dies within a few minutes", says Nelson, who turned to poaching after he was orphaned as a young boy. Yet if poverty is driving the supply, China is driving the demand. "If you look at all the poaching taking place in East Africa it is where the Chinese are present", says Asgar from 'Care for the Wild'. Yet even the 'Kenyan Wildlife Service' seem reluctant to point a finger at China: one of the country's primary international investors. "Several Chinese nationals have been arrested with Ivory but at this moment I don't want to say that they are involved". Without some home truths, elephants will soon be a thing of the past.