Elephant Poaching

News, information and statistics about elephant poaching. Facts about the killing of elephants for their ivory and the ivory trade is collected from wildlife charities, intelligence reports and other public criminal justice information.

See all facts and information about the illegal wildlife trade here.

According to a survey conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), up to 70 percent of people in China did not know that ivory used in products came form dead elephants.  The people surveyed previously thought that ivory simply dropped their ivory in a way that is similar as how humans lose their teeth.

The IFAW started a three year campaign to educate the Chinese public on the origins of ivory, and the role that poachers play in killing the elephants. According to an evaluation of the campaign, 66 percent of those who saw commercials about the ivory trade stated that they would “definitely” not be purchasing ivory products in the future.

(Prices of the illegal wildlife trade.)

Source:  Jeremy Hance, “Advertising campaign changing minds in China on ivory trade,” Mongabay, October 16, 2013.

According to the Elephant Action League, the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab funds up to 40 percent of their operations with the proceeds from ivory trafficking.

The group was responsible for the September 2013 attack on a Kenyan mall in September 2013.

Ivory trafficking across Africa contributed to the deaths of over 30,000 elephants in 2012. The biggest global market for ivory is in China, where a kilogram of ivory can sell for around $3,000 a kilo.

Poachers who kill the elephant in Africa earn between $50 to $100 per kilogram for the ivory.

(Prices of endangered species on the black market.)

Source:  Catruna Stewart, “Illegal ivory trade funds al-Shabaab’s terrorist attacks,” Independent, October 6, 2013.

In the first eight months of 2013, a reported 190 elephants, 35 rhinos, and 2 forest rangers were killed in Kenya.

In 2012, a total of 29 rhinos were killed in the country.

Between 2009 and 2012, nearly 1,000 elephants have been killed in Kenya by poachers. The total elephant population in the country is between 35,000 to 40,000.

(Price of rhino horns and ivory on the black market.)

Source:  Associated Press, “Poachers kill rhino in Nairobi Nat’l Park, highlighting risk to Kenya’s wildlife,” Washington Post, August 13, 2013.


Over 2,500 elephants are estimated to have been killed by poachers in Mozambique between 2009 and 2012.

It was previous reported by intelligence services that poachers in Mozambique were using land mines to kill elephants for their ivory.

(Price of ivory and other wildlife trade products.)

Source:  John Yeld, “Mozambique steps up war on poaching,” Independent Online, July 31, 2013.

Between 2010 and 2013, around 1,000 elephants were killed by poachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The elephants are killed for their ivory which is sold on the black market in Asia.

As of 2013, there are an estimated 7,000 elephants remaining in the wild in the DRC, compared to 100,000 that were roaming the wild in the 1980s.

(See the price of wildlife on the illegal markets.)

Source:  Taylor Toeka Kakala, “Congo-Kinshasa: Soldiers Trade in Illegal Ivory,” AllAfrica, July 25, 2013.

The Al-Qaeda cell in Somalia is reportedly generating between $200,000 to $600,000 a month in revenue from the trafficking of ivory, according to Los Angeles based advocacy group Elephant Action League.

Wildlife officials in Kenya have also stated that militants are trafficking ivory to raise revenue.

(Endangered animals prices on the black market.)

Source:  Tristan McConnell, “Elephant tusks: the new blood diamonds,” Global Post, July 18, 2013.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare estimates that up to 50,000 elephants were killed around the world in 2012. The elephants were killed by poachers in order to supply ivory to worldwide markets.

The global trade in ivory has been illegal since a worldwide ban went into effect in 1990.

As of 2013, there is an estimated 500,000 African elephants and 50,000 Asian elephants remaining in the wild.

Source:  Derek Baldwin, “Special report: Interpol acts to stem ivory trade,” Gulf News, May 22, 2013.

Around 70 percent of the ivory that is taken from elephants killed in Africa is shipped to China.

As of March 2013, the price of ivory was reported to be worth $1,300 per pound.

Source:  Pete Jones, “Gold and poaching bring murder and misery to Congolese wildlife reserve,” Guardian, March 31, 2013.

Wildlife traffickers are able to get up to 30 kilograms of ivory from a single elephant. If the market value of the a kilogram is $300, then the ivory from a single elephant would generate up to $9,000 on the black market.

According to a report in the Guardian, a corrupt wildlife ranger who allows poachers smuggle ivory would receive a cut of around 20 percent, or $2,000 in the example listed above.

In comparison, a ranger in Cambodia was being paid $30 a month in 2013, or $360 a year in salary. In Thailand, a lack of funds for supplies and gear leads to forest rangers conducting training exercises with tree branches. And in Tanzania, if a poacher is caught, he is subjected to a $13 fine.

(More on the effects of corruption.)

Source:  Oliver Milman, “Ranger corruption ‘impeding global fight against poaching’,” Guardian, March 27, 2013.

Research by wildlife protection organizations have estimated that 60 percent of the world’s forest elephant population was killed by poachers between 2002 to 2012.

Up to 25,000 elephants were being killed each year in Africa, with the Congo Rainforest in Central Africa being particularity bad in terms of poaching.

Source:  Jeremy Hance, “Prayers for dying elephants: Buddhists hold prayer ceremony for elephants decimated by poachers,” Mongabay.com, March 11, 2013.