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Tanzania reveals it’s lost over HALF its elephants in just six years

  • The elephant population as dropped from 110,000 to 43,300 in just 6 years
  • Popular with poachers, their ivory tusks fetch high prices in China
  • The Tanzanian government, along with WildAid, is launching a campaign to end the ivory trade

By

Katie Amey for MailOnline

and
Associated Press


Published:
05:28 EST, 19 June 2015

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Updated:
05:39 EST, 19 June 2015

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Shocking government data reveals that poaching for ivory has caused the elephant population in Tanzania to drop from almost 110,000 to just 43,300 in the past six years.

That is 60 per cent of all of the country’s elephants.

In an effort to end the ivory poaching, the fruits of which are particularly popular in China, Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, in association with WildAid and the African Wildlife Foundation, is urging the public to support the protection of these animals.

After losing 60 per cent of its elephant population in the past six years, the Tanzanian government is urging the world to unite against poachers

After losing 60 per cent of its elephant population in the past six years, the Tanzanian government is urging the world to unite against poachers

The campaign to end wildlife crime is called Poaching Steals from Us All and will use traditional resources, as well as social media, to reach as many people as possible – including those in rural villages.

‘Elephants are at the top of the ‘wish list’ for many tourists who come into this country, and tourism generates over 17 per cent of our gross domestic product,’ said The Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

‘Our elephants are a great asset to this country in many ways and my government is determined to stop the slaughter. But we cannot do it alone.

‘We want to enlist the help of all of our citizens to stop the theft of our national heritage.’

Many African celebrities are lending their support to the Poaching Steals from Us All campaign.
The Tanzanian government is urging the world to take note of their rapidly declining elephant population.

Many African celebrities are lending their support to the elephants – and international icons, like Prince William, have spoken out about elephant poaching in the past

Award-winning singer-songwriter Alikiba has been enlisted to help with the campaign aimed to end poaching

Award-winning singer-songwriter Alikiba has been enlisted to help with the campaign aimed to end poaching

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE RHINOS? 

With just over 4,800 left in the world, Black rhinos are a critically endangered species.

Currently, Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is attempting to reintroduce the animals into their native habitat.

Often killed by poachers for their horns, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) is working with the country to bring in an additional 32 rhinos to the existing small Serengeti population in hopes of creating a true stronghold area for the Eastern Black Rhino.

Credit: FZS and World Wildlife Fund

At a Thursday launch event in Dar es Salaam, Nyalandu also called upon China and other nations to end their ‘appetite for ivory’.

The campaign launch comes one day before a planned ivory crush by U.S. officials in New York’s Times Square. 

Also enlisted to help with the campaign is award-winning African singer-songwriter Alikiba, as well as singer Vanessa Mdee, former NBA player Hasheem Thabeet and the former Miss Tanzania, Jacqueline Mengi. 

International icons such as Prince William, David Beckham and Jackie Chan, have also given their support to campaigns to eliminate ivory poaching in the past.

Poaching is one of the key factors in the rapid decline of the elephant population and in countries like China, ivory fetches high revenue

Poaching is one of the key factors in the rapid decline of the elephant population and in countries like China, ivory fetches high revenue

Tragic: Two adult elephants killed by professional poachers in Kenya

Tragic: Two adult elephants killed by professional poachers in Kenya

Stockpiles of ivory recovered by officials are usually burned. Pictured are tusks set alight by the Kenyan government

Stockpiles of ivory recovered by officials are usually burned. Pictured are tusks set alight by the Kenyan government

NEW STUDY IDENTIFIES ELEPHANT POACHING HOTSPOTS IN AFRICA

Investigators who collected DNA from the tusks of slain elephants and painstakingly looked for matches in the vast African continent have identified two large areas where the slaughter has been occurring on an industrial scale, according to a study published on Thursday.

The two areas are Tanzania in the east and a cross-border region encompassing several nations in the central-western part of Africa.

Samuel Wasser, an author of the study published in the journal Science, said he hopes the study will focus law enforcement efforts and increase international pressure on host countries to crack down on poaching, but he acknowledged the challenge.

‘You’re literally asking them to police themselves,’ Wasser said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. He suggested donor countries could demand more robust conservation efforts in exchange for development aid.

The big size of shipments of confiscated ivory from both regions — over half a ton — indicates the presence of transnational crime syndicates likely operating with corrupt authorities, said researchers who matched DNA from seized tusks to samples of elephant hair, tissue and dung from wildlife parks across Africa.

Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, in the United States, described the two areas that the study identified as ‘major hotspots’ where elephant poaching far surpasses the scale of the killing for profit elsewhere.

Elephant populations in both areas were already known to be under siege by poachers who have killed tens of thousands annually in recent years to meet rising demand for ivory in Asia, particularly China. An average of at least several dozen tons of ivory is seized each year, roughly 10 percent of the total amount of ivory that is poached annually, said authors of the new study.

On Thursday, authorities in Bangkok announced that raids by multiple law enforcement agencies across Asia, Africa and Europe resulted in more than 300 arrests and over 600 seizures of assorted wildlife contraband, including more than 12 tons of ivory, as well as rhino horns, whale ribs and sea horses.

In New York City on Friday, a ton of confiscated ivory will be crushed in Times Square to draw attention to wildlife trafficking. 

A recent WildAid/AWF survey of over 2,000 Tanzanians found that 79 per cent of respondents said that it would matter a great deal to them if elephants disappeared from the country.

Over 73 per cent said that they associated wildlife with their national identity and heritage.

‘Poaching of elephants literally is theft from all Tanzanians and from future generations,’ said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid. ‘We invite all media to participate in the campaign, and we need everyone to help in the fight to stop it.’

Dr Patrick Bergin, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation, said of the new campaign: ‘Tanzania has always been known for its large elephant herds and, together with Botswana and Zimbabwe, is home to half of all of Africa’s elephants. 

‘The current rate of poaching, however, threatens to erode that distinction. As Tanzanians learn more about the crisis through the campaign, we hope they will work with us to protect this tremendous asset.’

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