A 60% Decline in 5 years
A recent article on Africa Geographic detailed the figures released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism which noted a 60% decline of elephants in the last five years. Countrywide census results reveal an estimate of 43,330 elephants, compared to the 2009 census showing 109,051. This represents a loss of 65,721 elephants in 5 years - a 60.3% decline nationally. This was a catastrophic announcement and has sparked much debate about what can be done to safe-guard the future of these animals.
Most have put the decline solely down to the ivory trade with Asia, particularly China, where ivory is used as a status symbol and for medicinal purposes.
Indeed, the ivory trade is still thriving and there is much discussion around the idea that a corrupt government must be part of the problem. In the 1980s when Tanzania previously had a decline in their elephant population, the government cracked down on illegal trade and the country eventually saw an increase in figures. However, since the early 2000s this has slipped, leading to poaching and trading rising once again. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has protective measures in place across Tanzania, but these rules do not apply to the semi-autonomous island and, more importantly, port, of Zanzibar. This means trade of illegal ivory can easily be shipped out of the country to the East.