A poisoned Sumatra elephant in Indonesia, June 2012, speaks to the worldwide crisis being reported on in a New York Times series, which explores the decimation of the species in Africa and beyond. Indonesia's endangered elephants on Sumatra island are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. Less than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are believed to remain in the wild.

NYT Series Explores Epic Elephant Poaching That Threatens Species' Survival


It looked like a mob hit—a single bullet to the top of the head, no evidence left behind, not even tracks or footprints. From military helicopters, authorities believe, elephants are being killed in commando-style raids. One shot to the head, even the babies. Tusks hacked off but the meat left to rot in the sun (whereas a poacher on foot would have taken at least some meat for the road).

“Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter,” The New York Times reported in a September 4 story, the first in a series. “Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.”

The crime happened in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and park officials, scientists and the Congolese authorities think one particular raid that claimed 22 elephants was conducted by the Ugandan military, netting these super-poachers more than a million dollars in ivory, most of which goes to China. Likewise, Viet Nam's elephants have been virtually extinguished, the Times said in a story introducing the series.

Elephant poaching has reached par with blood diamonds, the Times said. And far from being relegated to thugs, the industry has reached the halls of government. In fact, some of those charged with protecting elephants are involved in their slaughter, the Times reported. Experts such as Princeton University ecologist Andrew Dobson say the elephant species’ very survival is in danger.

“The huge populations in West Africa have disappeared, and those in the center and east are going rapidly,” Dobson told the Times. “The question is: Do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants?”

Read the rest of “Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits.”

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



vhawk's picture
Submitted by vhawk on
makes me sick,, the continued destruction of species and the planet,,, as if PEOPLE cannot see that what is going on / being done to the planet and animals , is NOT going to bite them back one day !! We can spend tons of money on elections and other b.s .. but cannot protect the most important thing the planet .

marklaroux's picture
Submitted by marklaroux on
So keep them in North America. The value of the species is in the members that are surviving, not the continent they are on any more. If the best we can do is defend the ones in North America, then so be it. If Uganda is 'settled' in a century, then we can return some....if not, keep them here (same with tigers and rhinos, etc.). The 'human tsunami' that is overpopulation mixed with corruption is a tax on any government. Don't encourage it by funding it's villains.