This year 19 elephants have been poached for their ivory in Kruger National park. South African National Parks, (SANParks) say that twelve of them have died since the beginning of September.
William Mabasa, General Manager, Communications and Marketing, said that the authority is “very saddened by the latest developments.”
Most of the elephants have been poached from the northern section of the Park which borders on Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The Pafuri region of the park is well populated with elephants, and the sudden spate of killings is more shocking as these are the first confirmed poaching incidents of elephants there in over ten years.
The rangers, private concerns and security outfits in Kruger Park are already battling with the rhino war, but it is hoped they will be able to step up to deal with this added burden.
In May 2015, the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society said that in neighboring Mozambique, half of that country’s elephant population has been killed over a period of five years.
Across the Limpopo River in Zimbabwe, elephant populations have fallen drastically, since 2001. Now it seems, Kruger Park is the next target for the poachers.
The World Wildlife Fund said earlier this year that in some parts of Africa the threat of extinction within the next fifty years is possible. This is due to the rising demand in Asian countries for ivory
The greatest demand for Ivory comes from China. It is not inconceivable to change this demand around, but it will a huge challenge. Japan used to be the largest consumer of Ivory, but over the years through education and promotion of the problem by Japanese celebrities, the ivory consumption now amounts to only 1% of the previous demand.
The problem with China is that there are so many people who need to be reached, and a government that appears to be failing dismally to prevent the wholesale destruction of rhinos, the horns of which are destined for Asian markets.
The news of the latest spate of recent elephant killings coincides with an announcement made on 23 Oct 2015 via the Washington Post, that China's President Xi Jinping has said that China has vowed to stop the trade in ivory. According to a Senior Government Official in the USA, the ban looks set to be in place within a year.
Such a move cannot come fast enough for the elephants of Kruger National Park. For Activists and organizations and, in particular the US Government, persistent follow-up campaigning to see the the ban in place as a matter of urgency, is crucial.