(Kenya hunts for armed elephant poachers, 1).
April 1st, 2014.
The brutality of the ivory trade
In 1989, CITIES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) approved a worldwide ban on ivory trade due to extensive poaching reducing the African elephant population by more than half. However, levels of poaching and illegal trade are getting out of control once again. Since 1997, certain countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe have tried to weaken the ban by allowing the sale of thousands of kilograms of ivory to China and Japan. It was not until 2012 that CITIES recognized that elephant poaching had reached unsustainable levels (Elephants and the ivory trade, 1). The illegal trade of ivory is pushing elephant poaching to the point where elephants are vulnerable to extinction. This terrible, wasteful act of poaching will put many species, as well as our own, at risk and harm the economy unless we take immediate action.
What would happen if elephants became extinct?
Elephants play a very important role in maintaining sustainable habitats for many other species (African elephant, 2). There are certain elephant-dependent tree species in Congo, Africa that have declined in growth population after more than 98% of the forest elephants have been killed by poachers. Forest elephants help these trees by spreading their seeds when they roam, and germinate them with their stomach acids. This dual relationship allows fruit trees with no other dispersal partners to ensure reproduction (Platt, 2). Depletion in these trees will have long-term ecological effects as the loss of one species directly impacts the whole balance of the food web (Bove, 2). If elephants became extinct, the elephant-dependent tree species would no longer continue to grow, causing the herbivores that rely on these trees for food to essentially starve as well as the carnivores that eat these