The Surge In African Elephant Slaughter

The kill-off of elephants is getting worse.  Humans are wiping them off the face of the earth, and scientists say the elephants know it.

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, elephants run towards water to drink and bathe at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, elephants run towards water to drink and bathe at the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)

Elephants appear to be not just grand but wise.  Smart.  Knowing.  And right now they appear to know what the world is just not getting, despite all the bloody evidence:  the elephants of Africa are being slaughtered on an epic scale.

A huge new study finds sixty-two percent vanished from the forests of Central Africa in the last decade.  New industrial-strength poaching.  Heavily-armed gangs mowing down and butchering these great, iconic, intelligent creatures for tusks and trinkets on an epic scale.

This hour, On Point:  elephant genocide, and maybe – in our time – the end of elephants.

-Tom Ashbrook


Samantha Strindberg, biostatistician for the Wildlife Conservation Society and one of the co-authors of the newly-released study “Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa” in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

Bryan Christy, contributing writer for National Geographic.  He spent more than two years investigating the international ivory trade and the surge in poaching, and his story “Blood Ivory” appeared in the October issue of National Geographic. (@bryanchristy)

Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Near East, South Asia, and Africa Branch in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of International Conservation.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “There is nothing a mother elephant will not do for her infant, but even she cannot protect it from bullets. About a year ago, poachers attacked a family of forest elephants in central Africa. The biologist who witnessed the attack told us that wildlife guards were completely outgunned. In the end, an elephant mother, riddled with bullets and trumpeting with pain and fear, was left to use her enormous body to shield her baby. Her sacrifice was for naught; the baby was also killed.”

Reuters “More African elephants are being illegally slaughtered for their ivory than are being born each year with organized criminal gangs cashing in on runaway poaching which could soon threaten populations in some regions, a report said on Wednesday.”

CBS News “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on world leaders to stop the epic slaughter of African elephants, a wildlife crisis that could lead to the extinction of the Sub-Saharan species. CBS News went to Kenya last week, where every year 25,000 elephants are being killed by poachers. Their tusks are sold for thousands of dollars, often to wealthy Chinese customers who prize ornate ivory carvings.”

Undercover Investigation Video

National Geographic undercover investigation into elephant poaching and ivory smuggling.

WARNING: There are some very grisly images in this video.

Yao Ming PSA

National Geographic’s “how to help” page


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