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 report in the New York Times, a pound of ivory is selling for $1,300 in China as of March 2013.

The value of the ivory is higher than the $900 per pound reported in October 2012. In 2011, a pound of ivory was selling for $270.

(More illegal wildlife trade prices.)

Source:  Dan Levin, “From Elephants’ Mouths, an Illicit Trail to China,” New York Times, March 1, 2013.

Wildlife protection officers and police around the world seized 5,259 raw ivory tusks during 13 raids, according to information from the WWF and wildlife monitoring organization Traffic.

The WWF estimates that up to 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa each year in order to supply the ivory market.

Source:  “Yingluck to ‘consider’ ivory trade ban,” Bangkok Post, February 27, 2013.

The Government of Gabon reported in February 2013 that poachers in the country killed 11,000 elephants between 2004 to 2012.

The elephants are killed for their ivory, which is traded globally on the black market. In 2011, wildlife protection officers seized an estimated 44 tons of illegal ivory worldwide.

Source:  Shannon Van Sant, “Operation Succeeds at Cracking Down on Illegal Wildlife Trade,” Voice of America, February 18, 2013.


The New York Times reported on the various tactics that elephant ivory poachers are deploying against park rangers in Central Africa.

Experts are reporting that the poachers are using former soldiers who are employing military tactics to kill rangers that come across their activities. In Kenya, six rangers were killed during 2012. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5 people were killed during the summer of 2012 when poachers raided a wildlife reserve. In Mozambique, intelligence reports are stating that poachers are using land mines.

In addition to killing park rangers, the ivory traffickers are finding various ways to avoid the detection of rangers. In Zimbabwe, poachers are killing elephants for their ivory and then spreading poison onto the dead bodies. The poison is used to kill vultures so that park rangers are unable to know when elephants have been killed.

(More statistics about elephant poaching.)

Source:  Jeffery Gettleman, “Rangers in Isolated Central Africa Uncover Grim Cost of Protecting Wildlife,” New York Times, December 31, 2012.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has reported that 4 out of every 10 elephants that died between 2002 and 2006 were killed by poachers. In 2012, CITES estimates that poachers are the cause of 8 out of 10 elephant deaths in Africa.

Source:  David H. Halbfinger, “2 Manhattan Jewelers Admit Illegal Ivory Trading,” New York Times, July 12, 2012.

In April 2012, international wildlife monitoring group TRAFFIC found 3,389 online advertisements for wildlife products such as tiger bone, elephant ivory, rhino horns and hawksbill turtle products. The various wildlife products were being offered through 15 different e-commerce sites and auction websites written in Chinese.

In the same month, authorities in China responsible for stopping the illegal wildlife trade investigated 700 cases, closed 628 online shops selling wildlife products, and deleted 1,607 pieces of information regarding the black market trade of animals from the Internet.

The illegal trafficking of wildlife in China is estimated to be worth $10 Billion.

Source:  “Chinese e-commerce companies crack down on illegal wildlife trade,” WWF, June 8, 2012.

According to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, up to 90 percent of the elephant ivory available in legal auctions in China were illegally obtained through poaching.

(Animals and Wildlife Sold on the Black Market.)

Source:  “Auction of Ivory in China Spurring Illegal Market, Report Says,” Yale Environment 360, March 26, 2012.

Environmental protections officials have stated that poachers have been killing elephants in Thailand’s national parks for the purpose of wildlife trafficking. The poachers kill the elephants mainly for their ivory tusks, which can be sold for $1,500 per kilogram on the black market as of February 2012. In addition to the tusks, the elephant’s meat and genitals are sold to smugglers as exotic foods and for use in traditional medicine across Asia.

Not all elephants that are seen by poachers are killed. In addition to the body parts, elephants that are alive are a profitable product for the traffickers. According to wildlife officials, baby elephants are a lucrative item to sell on the black market due to its high demand. Traffickers are able to sell a baby elephant for up to $7,000 to customers who want to use the elephant in Thailand’s bustling tourism industry. In order to get the baby elephant, poachers and traffickers must first kill the adult elephant that is protecting the baby.

(See more prices of exotic animals and other endangered species sold in the illegal wildlife trade.)

Source:  Daniel Schearf, “Thai Wildlife Group Raided for Criticizing Elephant Poaching,” Voice of America, February 22, 2012.

In 2011, an estimated 3,000 elephants were killed by poaching activities across the African continent, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

In the first 5 weeks of 2012, up to 200 elephants were killed by poachers in Africa.

Source:  Associated Press, “Activists: Poachers kill 200 elephants in Cameroon,” USA Today, February 16, 2012.

In 2009, authorities in Vietnam seized 7 tons of elephant ivory that was smuggled  into the country from Tanzania. It was the largest seizures of elephant ivory in the country’s history.

(Additional wildlife trafficking statistics.)

Source: Associated Press, “Illegal elephant tusk smuggling uncovered in Vietnam,” New Zealand Herald, October 24, 2011.