Wildlife crime involves illegally selling and buying animal body parts, as well as stealing or killing animals that are protected by government laws.
Wildlife trade is one of the most profitable illicit trades in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually.
Illegal wildlife trade of elephant ivory, rhino horns, and tiger products, is widespread in many countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.
It is controlled by dangerous crime syndicates that traffic wildlife like drugs or weapons. On December 20, 2013, the UN added World Wildlife Day to its calendar as an official event to be celebrated from March 3, 2014, onwards.
It declared the day out of concern that wildlife crime had negative economic, environmental and social impacts worldwide. The day 2016 theme was “The future of wildlife is in our hands”, with a sub-theme “The future of elephants is in our hands”.
Though World Wildlife Day 2016 was raised awareness on all threatened species, the plight of the African and Asian elephants will be emphasized, with the tag line “The future of elephants is in our hands”. Elephants are at the centre of World Wildlife Day 2016.
They are amongst the most vulnerable animals on the planet. Between 2010 and 2012, about 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.
There are two main types of elephants: the Asian elephant and the African Elephant. They differ in several way, the African elephant being much bigger.
It can weight up to eight tons. While only a few Asian elephants have tusks, all African elephants, including females, have tusks.
Both populations have been threatened in the past few years. As of 2011, the world is losing more African elephants than the population can reproduce, threatening their very existence. However, its Asian cousin is even more in danger of disappearing.
The Asian elephant is present in 13 countries across Asia, but only 40,000 animals remain worldwide. That’s less than a tenth of the African elephant population.
Elephants are poached for the ivory contained in their tusks, as the demand for ivory remains high, especially in China and the US, the two largest consumer markets for ivory.
Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China has tripled, boosting illegal trafficking. One of the way to save elephants from extinction is by reducing the demand and by educating potential buyers on the issue, the ultimate goal of World Wildlife Day.