Elephant poaching on the rise in Africa

 

Elephants are still hunted down and killed in Asia and Africa. Even though there has been a ban on trading ivory for over two decades, the poaching of elephants has been going on.

Ivory has been used since the beginning of mankind. Carvings of elephant tusks have been a part of Asian and African art for many centuries. In Europe people used ivory for piano keyboards or billiard balls.


Throughout history Europeans have been moving in on central African states to make money out of ivory. Belgium controlled Congo up to the beginning of the 1960s and set up a number of so-called ivory stations. Ivory Coast got its name from the roaming elephants in the French colony. Today there are almost no elephants left.

In contrast to Asia where only some male elephants have tusks, increased poaching poses a big problem in Africa. Elephants are not only hunted for their ivory. Meat and the hide of elephants can be manufactured and some poachers kill elephants for medicine.

Elephant poaching has reached a record number in the last ten years.  The illegal ivory trade is currently booming in many African countries. In 2011 almost forty tons of ivory were seized by authorities. In Chad, the elephant population has dropped from over 20,000 in the 1980s to a little over three thousand at present.

Another African country, Gabon, has stated that it wants to burn its ivory stockpile of almost 5,000 kilograms, seized legally from about 850 dead elephants. The government is afraid that the ivory may be stolen by poachers and traders and sold to Asian countries.

 

International organizations to protect elephants have recently found out that most of the ivory is going to China, where it is in high demand. There is a growing number of middle class Chinese who can now afford to buy ivory. Jewels and other items are bought by Chinese in African countries and smuggled back to their home country.

Over 11,000 pieces of ivory have been sold on mainland China in 2011 alone.  As demand increases the price of ivory on the black market continues to go up. It has reached about 1,000 dollars per pound.

Conservationist groups say that poachers are killing tens of thousands of elephants every year. They compare poaching with the blood diamond conflict which has been going on in Africa for many years. They warn that if poaching does not come to a halt, African elephants will become extinct.

Not only crime organizations around the world are working together with poachers to sell ivory, corrupt army officials in various countries are also in the ivory deal. In Congo and South Sudan soldiers have been arrested for killing elephants.

In central Africa the Lord’s Resistance Army of rebel leader Joseph Kony is also in the ivory business in order to make money, which is needed to buy weapons.

 

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Words

  • afford = to have the money to buy something
  • arrest = to take to a police station because you have done something wrong
  • authorities = officials of the government
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • black market = system where people buy and sell illegal goods or products that are difficult to get
  • booming = very good; increase in business
  • carving = an object made by cutting a figure into material
  • century = a hundred years
  • come to a halt = stop
  • conservationist group =  people who work to protect animals , plants and nature
  • corrupt = to use your power in a way that is not honest or legal
  • deal = business
  • decade = ten years
  • drop = go down
  • extinct = die out
  • hide = skin of an animal
  • high demand = many people want to buy something
  • illegal = against the law , not allowed
  • in contrast to = the difference between two things
  • increase = to go up
  • ivory = the hard smooth yellowish-white material from the tusks of elephants
  • ivory station = place where ivory is bought and sold
  • mainland = Communist China, not Taiwan
  • mankind = all humans as a group
  • manufacture = to  produce
  • move in = start to control
  • official = high-ranking soldier
  • piece = a single object
  • poaching = to illegally shoot and kill animals
  • pose = cause, lead to
  • protect = guard, save
  • roam = wander around in nature
  • seize = if the police take something  that has been stolen
  • state = declare
  • stockpile = supply
  • throughout = in all of
  • trade = to buy and sell things
  • tusk = long pointed and curved  teeth of elephants
  • various = different
  • weapon = something that you use to fight with in a war, like a gun or knife