Elephants Could be On Path To Extinction By 2020
African elephants are now being slaughtered for their ivory at a rapid pace, unseen since the international ban on ivory in 1989.
However, scientists are saying that what is missing is the outcry on the ivory trade being present today - in short, it's because the public doesn't care anymore.
When the ivory ban came into effect, the death rate of the African elephant was 7.4 percent a year, and now the death rate is 8 percent, so it is increasing, when the elephant stocks are in enough danger already.
But the poaching death rate in the late 1980s was based on a population that numbered more than 1 million. Today the total African elephant population is less than 470,000.
"If the trend continues, there won't be any elephants except in fenced areas with a lot of enforcement to protect them," said Wasser.
He is lead author of a paper in the August issue of Conservation Biology that contends elephants are on a course that could mean most remaining large groups will be extinct by 2020 unless renewed public pressure brings about heightened enforcement.
There are now DNA tools in place for scientists to use to determine which elephant population the ivory has come from. This is important because poachers often ship ivory from one country to another to throw off the law.
Evidence gathered from recent major ivory seizures shows conclusively that the ivory is not coming from a broad geographic area but rather that hunters are targeting specific herds. With such information, Wasser said, authorities can beef up enforcement efforts and focus them in specific areas where poaching is known to occur as a means of preventing elephants from being killed. But that will only happen if there is sufficient public pressure to marshal funding for a much larger international effort to halt the poaching.
Enforcement needs to be stepped up to stop this happening and people need to start caring again. Or just think about it, in 12 years there could be no more elephants - they'll become a myth - something that generations from now will talk about as a great beast that once roamed the earth, but no more.