The last few years have not been kind to African elephants. Recent estimates put the number of African elephants killed since 2011 at over 50,000. The total number of both African elephant species (forest and savanna) is estimated to be around 550,000 individuals spread out over Earth’s second largest continent. See the problem?
The surge in killings is directly tied to a surge in demand. The gleaming tusks that elephants use to push down trees, dig for minerals, and battle rival males are their downfall. Wealthy consumers from East Asian countries, such as China and The Philippines, often like to decorate their houses with ivory carvings, representing anything from religious figures to, ironically, elephants. Those who purchase these carvings are frequently unaware that intelligent animals were shot repeatedly, young elephants were left orphaned and grieving, and several international laws were broken to get that ivory into their home.