Independent Voices, Indy Voices

Join our call for world leaders to stop the illegal killing of elephants

The rate at which Africa’s elephants are being illegally killed is so high that they could become extinct in the wild in our lifetime, reports Diana Vollmerhausen

Share

Wildlife crime has grown into such a serious issue that it has become a part of the global struggle against organised crime and terrorism. Governments from around the world will meet in London next week for a special conference, chaired by David Cameron. Prince Charles, the president of WWF, and Prince William will also take part.

The summit has been called due to the mounting international concern surrounding the industrial scale of  poaching, and how it has fuelled other crime worldwide. Soaring demand from Asia has fuelled the price of rhino horn and ivory, which can be more valuable by weight than gold.

The statistics about the horrific scale of poaching tell their own story. A hundred African elephants are being killed illegally every day, and record seizures of 41,674kg of ivory were reported for 2013 alone.

This is the story of one tragedy this year:

It was just before sunset, around 6pm on 27 January, that Charles Kinyua one of wildlife charity Space for Giants’ field officers, heard two gunshots. They came from the direction of Rumuruti Forest, in Kenya.

Within the hour, scouts from the Rumuruti and Nyahururu stations of the Kenya Wildlife Service entered the forest with eight armed rangers. They searched through the night. The mutilated carcass of the male elephant was not discovered until 6am the following day. The front of the elephant’s head had been crudely hacked off to remove the ivory, leaving a large, gory wound where his face had been.

Rangers at the scene estimate that the elephant was 15 to 20 years old, a young bull, and he should have had 30 to 40 years of life ahead of him.

Rumuruti Forest is a protected wildlife area, home to many elephants. Last year, there were at least five confirmed cases of poached elephants here. Safeguarding the wildlife is a daunting task; patrolling the dense bush of the 6,500-hectare forest is often beyond the capability of the authorities and charities.

Ann Githaiga, a project officer at Space for Giants who coordinates the field programme, said: “Cameras, tracking dogs and night-vision equipment for the night tracking, as in this incident, would go a long way in helping to fight poaching in this forest.”

The young bull killed at Rumuruti was just one from an unprecedented slaughter.  Recent reports by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species suggest that up to 12 per cent of all of Africa’s elephants were illegally killed in 2011. If these rates continue, elephants could disappear from the wild altogether in our lifetime.

The Independent and Space for Giants’ elephant campaign calls on world leaders at the forthcoming conference to take urgent steps to end the alarming decline of Africa’s elephants.

 Max Graham, the founder of Space for Giants says: “Through the support of Independent readers, Space for Giants is investing in a new rapid-response team.

“I am confident that in 2014, with the creation of this team, we will see a significant reduction in the poaching threat in this region."

“However, this ground support is also needed for the other 400,000 elephants that remain across Africa. I hope we see real financial commitment to ‘boots on the ground’ coming out of this conference.”

The Independent is asking readers to help stop the poaching crisis. Sign our petition to call on world leaders at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade to stop the illegal killing of elephants once and for all.

The Independent’s appeal has raised more than £400,000 to protect elephants, but much more is needed.

Find out more about Space for Giants.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
In 1215 the Magna Carta forced the English King (at the time King John) to respect the laws of the land and guaranteed rights and protections to his subjects  

Magna Carta will be 800 years old next year – the perfect reminder of the rights and freedoms we must hold dear

Nigel Farage
David Cameron and George Osborne tour building works at Manchester's Victoria Railway Station  

There’s more to the Tories caring about the North of England than meets the eye

Chris Blackhurst
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there