Half of Mozambique’s Elephants Have Been Killed by Poachers

While conservationists and governments are working to shut down the illegal trade in ivory, a new survey just found that Mozambique has lost half of its elephants to poachers in just five years.

As recently as 2010, the country was believed to be home to an estimated 20,000 elephants, but the latest survey, which was conducted by the government in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as part of the Great Elephant Census, estimates that 48 percent of the population in Mozambique has been slaughtered by criminals.

Today, there are believed to be 10,300 elephants left. Nearly 10,000 of them have been slaughtered for nothing more than their tusks. According to WCS, 95 percent of the total loss occurred in northern Mozambique where the elephant population declined from an estimated 15,400 to an estimated 6,100. Almost half of the elephants seen in an aerial survey of both Niassa National Reserve and Quirimbas National Park were found dead.

“These survey results are sobering; criminals have taken a staggering toll on Mozambique’s wildlife and natural resources. But I am hopeful that the Government of Mozambique, working with partners in the NGO and development community, as well as neighboring nations, will bring criminals to justice so elephants can thrive once again here,” said Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In an effort to prevent further losses, Celso Correia, Mozambique’s new Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, has said that tackling this problem is now a top priority for the government, which will be taking a number of actions from strengthening partnerships with international organizations and governments, deploying more environmental police, ensuring law enforcement is properly armed and improving prosecutions for poachers, among other measures.

Alastair Nelson, WCS Mozambique Country Director said, “We still have a long way to go to stop rampant elephant poaching, illegal hardwood logging, and rhino horn trafficking.” But the organization reports that so far this year there have already been some improvements, with arrests of poachers, seizures of tusks and the destruction of three illegal logging camps.

While China is the largest market for ivory that continues to drive the demand, the U.S. is the second largest market in the world. Conservationists believe the legal market for pre-ban ivory has offered a cover for illegal sales and that the laws and punishments are too weak to be deterrents. But progress is being made to stop the trade.

New York and New Jersey passed laws restricting the trade in ivory and rhino horns, while a more than dozen other states are working on similar measures. These states include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont.

In honor of Satao, one of Kenya’s most well-known and beloved elephants who was slaughtered by poachers, federal legislation known as the TUSKER Act has been introduced that will allow the U.S. to impose sanctions on countries that aren’t upholding their commitments to shut down the trade and protect elephants.

For more info on how to help ensure elephants continue to hold their rightful place on the landscape, check out 96 Elephants and iWorry.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

93 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Mark Verbossche
Mark Verbossche2 years ago

Thanks china, because of your greed the next generation may never see an elephant in the wild. You truly are the scum of humanity.

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Sara G.
Sara G2 years ago

Human greed knows no limits.

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Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.2 years ago

A world without elephants would be a very sad one....without poachers, trophy hunters and no brain idiots would be a happy one

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Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

They belong to the wild, not the human

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Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Please support also this 2 IMPORTANT campaigns:

http://www.care2.com/news/member/340441191/3884620

http://www.care2.com/news/member/340441191/3884680

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Sad!

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Fred L.
Fred L2 years ago

@John C. "No market, no reason to poach." Yep, for all those calling for the death of poachers, it'd be much effective to severely penalize (I'd opt for death) the merchants and consumers of endangered species products. But I'd also like to eliminate poachers, who more and more are as well organized and powerful as the drug cartels.

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Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Sheila C.
Sheila C2 years ago

The human race is barbaric in its out and out greed and ignorance. Extinction caused by hunting and loss of habitat due to human interference does not constitute survival of the fittest.

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