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Special Report: Elephant Slaughter in Tanzania

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally part of a newsletter by sustainable tourism group, Friends of Serengeti, and is published with full permission. The ATTA has continued to support this group in their efforts to stop detrimental development and other activities in and around the fragile Serengeti plains. 

As you read this, African elephants are being killed in unprecedented numbers.

Blood ivory now involves well armed and organized gangs, terrorist groups, official corruption, and a huge demand from China and Thailand, even the US (see below).

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who has been studying and protecting elephants in Africa for 47 years, states, “There’s an enormous slaughter of elephants going on in Tanzania right now. Things are out of hand. There’s no protection in numbers for elephants any more than there was for bison in the 19th Century when they were all wiped out in America. So people shouldn’t kid themselves.”

The slaughter is most critical in Tanzania, which has perhaps a quarter of the elephants left on the continent. 

Many reports say Tanzania is losing 10,000 elephants a year, but others say that the number is higher, up to 90 a day in some areas – reportedly the highest rate in Africa!

Tanzanian Conservationist Pratik Patel states, “In the last five years the demand for ivory has just exploded. They’re getting ivory from Africa into containers, into international waters and into Hong Kong and (mainland) China. It’s well organised. Syndicates with billions of dollars. It’s just like cocaine and heroin, so how do you fight them?”

Read an interview with Pratik here.

Tanzania will lose all their elephants in five years at the current pace. But there is a ray of hope. Finally, some in the Tanzanian government have decided to act. The country recently launched Operation Uhai (Operation Life).  It will reportedly include a shoot to kill policy, not just of those caught in the act but any suspect found in a protected area. But of course reducing or eliminating demand is key.

Help stop ivory imports into the US 

Second on the list of ivory importers – the United States, which has a legal loophole allowing ivory into the country, despite a worldwide ban.  Sign a petition.

Learn more

National Geographic page: A Voice for Elephants

Tanzanians see official hand in elephant poaching  USA Today

Poachers Decimate Tanzania’s Elephant Herds  NPR

Ivory Trade Ban in Thailand Urged By The World Wildlife Fund

2 Comments to Special Report: Elephant Slaughter in Tanzania

  1. Samantha Feingold

    I can’t believe this is still such a robust trade. It needs to be stopped.

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