Issue Background

Protect African Elephants

African elephants, especially those in West, Central and East Africa, are facing a major poaching problem. To address their issues and implement a long-term soluton to prevent poaching from gettting out of control again, we propose both short-term and long-term actions.

Short Term


For immediate relief of poaching trends

  • Continue increased law enforcement efforts in Africa
  • Interdict illegal ivory supply chains at ports and vulnerable points
  • Impose sanctions consistent with CITES on China and other countries who violate current international ivory trade bans'

Long Term

  • Consult all stakeholders, including African nations and people who legally trade ivory, to encourage CITES to implement a long-term regulated supply system of legal raw ivory to those East Asian cuntries that guarantee to cease buying poached ivory
  • Adopt realistic policies that recognize the intrinsic value of ivory and provide economic incentives for local African communities to protect elephants against poaching
  • Eliminate demand for illicit ivory without destroying culturally significant treasures

A December 2013 report from CITES and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Species Survival Commission sounded an alarm about African Elephant populations.

After showing progress in the 1990s and early 2000s, poaching started increasing around 2006 and jumped sharply starting in 2009. By 2012, an estimated 7.4% of African elephants died in that year from illegal killing, or around 22,000 elephants. Because elephants normally reproduce at a rate of 5% or less, this rate of killing represents a clear and serious threat to African elephant populations without effective conservation programs.

Along with documenting elephant deaths, this report also reported on the flow of illegal ivory over time. 

Based on data from law enforcement agencies, the report shows that from 2000-2008, the major destination for illicit ivory was Japan, followed by the Philippines, Egypt, China, Belgium, Great Britain and the United States. From 2008-11, China emerged as the major destination for illicit ivory, followed by the Philippines, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian countries. European and American trade was insignificant.

The most recent data, and the latest map tracking illegal ivory trade routes (shown below) makes clear, that China has emerged as the undisputed leading consumer of poached ivory. While the US has dropped off of the map of illicit trade, trade routes have emerged through Spain and the Middle East along with the more established routes in other Southeastern Asian countries.

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