Despite conservation efforts, elephant poaching is on the rise and their territory in Africa is being destroyed – in record numbers. Botswana, which holds more than 37% of the continent’s endangered population of elephants, has become a sanctuary for the animals, as they retreat from other countries like Angola, Namibia, and Zambia.

The latest statistics place the number of elephants in Botswana at nearly 130,000. Although elephants may come to Botswana for safe haven, poachers have other goals entirely.

The most recent dry season aerial survey of elephants and other wildlife in the northern Botswana region has identified 87 elephants who were killed – in just the last few months.

Most of the carcasses had been killed in recent weeks, and were found in the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary. Since completion of the survey, the true number of elephants killed for their tusks could be even higher.

Ivory is sold on the black market to be carved into trinkets, souvenirs, jewelry, and utensils – and is extremely valuable, due to the illegality of poaching elephants. In Tanzania, located in East Africa, 60% of the elephant population has been lost of the last 5 years alone. It’s estimated that more than 35,000 elephants are killed every year by poachers.

The president of the African Wildlife Foundation, Dr. Philip Muruthi, said that this news was “devastating,” and that we’re in the midst of a “poaching crisis.” He called on each state and their partners to remain vigilant, and be proactive when it comes to stopping the threat of poaching.

The fate of Africa’s elephants remains to be seen. But one thing is clear – individual nations need to make a higher effort to prevent poaching and destroy the illegal ivory trade. Until this happens, the fate of these majestic animals could be at risk – and this loss would impact not only Africa, but the entire world. Contact us to find out more on the subject of conserving African wildlife.