The worst year for elephants for two decades. That’s how some wildlife trade specialists described 2011. 

Pre-publicity about a Panorama special Ivory Wars: Out of Africa (Thursday 12th April, BBC1 9pm), would seem confirm what Born Free has been saying for years.  Soaring raw ivory prices, crushing levels of poaching and the biggest seizures of the illegal ivory since the international ivory trade ban was introduced in 1990, mean that elephants across much of Africa are facing a bleak future.  Foolhardy decisions by well-meaning countries such as the UK have undermined the integrity of the ban and meant that legalised sales to China and Japan, far from ‘satisfying’ demand and reducing poaching, have fuelled the demand for ‘white gold’.

Elephant strongholds such as Kenya, and parts of east and southern Africa, may be able to withstand the onslaught – although rangers regularly and tragically lose their lives – but less well-resourced wildlife law enforcement operations in other parts of Africa are, literally, under the gun, and so are the elephants. 

Watch Panorama’s Ivory Wars: Out of Africa

 

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