The End of the African Elephant

In 20 years, most of us will still be alive.

Which means most of us will be around to witness the extinction of the African elephant. 

photo from
photo from

Killing of elephants for their tusks has reached unsustainable levels. Humans now kill more elephants than are born each year.

George Wittemyera, Joseph M. Northrup, Julian Blanc, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Patrick Omond, and Kenneth P. Burnham conducted a study and presented their findings to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. They extrapolated that in 2011 alone, 40,000 elephants were murdered for their tusks.

They cite an increased demand for ivory in places, including China. A pair of tusks can fetch up to $10,000 American. That’s enticing money for some folks.

Now before you Americans start pointing fingers, there’s plenty of ivory trade here in the US as well. There are loopholes in the law preventing the import of ivory. Call yourself a hunter and the tusks a trophy, and you’re set. The Obama administration has tried to tighten that loophole, but the NRA is fighting it. And there’s lots of smuggling as well. Few smugglers are caught, and the ones that are usually get a slap on the wrist.

Fortunately, there is interest in saving the elephants and rhinos. Countries have banded together to stop the flow of ivory through their country. We’ve all heard of governments destroying piles of confiscated ivory. And some countries have stepped up enforcement of boundaries to preserves.

But it’s not enough.

Which means that soon we will see the largest land animal go by the wayside. 

38 thoughts on “The End of the African Elephant

      1. That’s true. But I’m not betting on humans to do anything until it’s too late. Sure, there may be a few left in zoos and refuges, but that’s not living. That’s existing for the amusement of others.

      2. I don’t fully agree with zoos, but again that means that the species are living… people are fighting back, so that’s something. What is needed is a way for someone like me, who wants to help but doesn’t even know how, to help. Then change can come!

    1. Power doesn’t stop this. A change in consciousness does. As long we value money over all else, we will continue to see such destruction. After all, this is about money.

      1. We educate by doing what you already do. We talk and write about what’s happening. And then we lead by example. Indeed, meaningful change is facilitated in that way. Ghandi didn’t lead an army. He influenced others to act as he did.

  1. So sad…. Indonesian elephants are already endangered as well. We had one case recently “Baby Agam”. And, my friends decided to make a petition to be able to influence public and government to do further protection and conservation for those voiceless.

    Thanks for sharing, Jen.

    If you don’t mind, please sign the petitions in http://www.petitions24/justice_for_baby_agam

    Let’s spread this universal love….

    1. OK, I found the info on Agam. He died last month. Apparently he was injured when he fell and despite efforts to help him, there was no means to provide such care for an elephant. . So what’s your petition for?

      1. Actually, the situation in Aceh is a bit political. Farmers kill or keep some elephants hostage on purpose to get reimbursement from the government. Seems that the government do not listen, for years and it was just found through baby Agam case.

        They try to make public aware about this. We also sent massive messages to related ministers to take actions – at least to start with making a better regulations on farming that would protect the elephants’ habitat.

  2. As long as there are ignorant people who think a stupid little piece of jewelry is more important than a living being with emotions and soul, there will continue to be a rush toward extinction for these amazing creatures.For the very life of me, I do not understand this mentality, but as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. The poachers and the people who buy ivory should all be prosecuted.

    1. There is little will to do so. Besides, most people don’t care about elephants. Get rid of them so there’s more land available to rape of its resources. But one day, it will all be gone. And then, so will we.

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