Then, because of poaching, those numbers dropped. Drastically.
Now there’s a bit of good news.
The cause? Reduced ivory demand, specifically from Chinese markets — the biggest driver behind poaching in Africa, according to the study, which appeared last month in the journal Nature Communications.
When the value of ivory goes up, so does poaching
It’s basic supply and demand, according to the study.
But trade and poaching bans in China and in Africa have also had the negative effect of driving the value of ivory up.
Researchers also said that law enforcement in the areas can be inadequate in the face of thriving illegal markets. And police corruption compounds the problem, the study said.
Poverty is one of the biggest motivators for poaching
Poverty plays the biggest role in perpetuating the illegal trade, the researchers said. There tended to be more poaching in areas with higher poverty density, leading researchers to suggest that the decline in poaching will not be sustainable without a decline in poverty.
Investing in law enforcement isn’t enough, the study says.
“The effect of alleviating poverty and reducing corruption at the site-level might be other (potentially more effective) approaches, that should be promoted more,” Severin Hauenstein, one of the researchers involved in the study, told CNN.
To put it simply, until the people are living in better conditions, elephants will continue to be targeted.