Poachers killed an estimated 100,000 elephants across Africa between 2010 and 2012, according to a new study published this week.
The huge spike in the continent’s death rate of the world’s largest mammals is largely because of an increased demand for ivory in China and other Asian nations, according to the study.
One of the authors of the study, Colorado State University’s George Wittemyer, said on Tuesday the numbers were “truly scary”.
The study, released on Monday, is the first to scientifically quantify the number of deaths across the continent by measuring deaths in one closely monitored park in Kenya and using other published data to extrapolate fatality tolls across the continent.
The study – which was carried out by the world’s leading elephant experts – found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent of all elephant deaths a decade ago to roughly 65 percent of all elephant deaths today, a percentage that, if continued, will lead to the extinction of the species.
China’s rising middle class and the demand for ivory in that country of 1.3 billion people is driving the black market price of ivory up, leading to more impoverished people in Africa ”willing to take the criminal risk on and kill elephants.
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