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WWF Statement on Newly-released African Elephant Poaching Data

New data released by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) indicates that poaching of African elephants in 2015 remained virtually unchanged compared to 2013 and 2014. The CITES program Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) shows that poaching is slightly down from the peak recorded in 2011, but remains at high and unsustainable levels.

In response, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of Wildlife Conservation:

“As illegal killing of elephants continues to outpace population growth, it’s clear that the poaching crisis continues across Africa. We need it to take a sharp dive toward zero, and fast.

“World leaders, conservationists, law enforcement, and rangers on the ground have come together in recent years to tackle wildlife crime in a way they never have before. We’ve seen significant global momentum toward ending poaching and the ivory trade, with China, Hong Kong, and the United States recently pledging to close their domestic ivory markets. Meanwhile, there are indications that global enforcement and policy action is beginning to make an impact on the ground, with poaching rates down in parts of east Africa, formerly a hot spot for elephant killings.

“However, these data show how even after elevating the global response to wildlife crime to unprecedented levels, illegal wildlife trade and poaching are scourges that are hard to quickly wipe out. Poachers continue to kill tens of thousands of elephants for their tusks each year, threatening the survival of entire elephant populations, jeopardizing the livelihoods of local communities, and undermining national and regional security.

“To secure a bright future for elephants we must continue to scale up global efforts to stamp out wildlife crime altogether. Reducing the killing calls for action across the entire trade chain, including putting an end to the poaching, the trafficking, and most critically, the consumer demand that’s driving wildlife crime.”