With 30,000 elephants being brutally poached per year in response to Chinese demand, and with only 30,000 Asian elephants remaining, America may represent the last best hope for perhaps the greatest of all animals.
A few weeks ago, a gigantic, 45-year-old African elephant named Satao was killed by ivory poachers. Satao, a beloved pachyderm legend, was discovered in a mutilated heap; he had been killed by poison arrows and butchered for his gigantic tusks. This year, Satao will be one of about 30,000 elephants destroyed, in a declining population of just 500,000. Black-market ivory evidently goes for $1,300 a pound, and the price is rising as Asia becomes richer: In the Orient, ground ivory is used to make a popular placebo medication, and, according to the Telegraph, Chinese decorating traditions credit ivory with the power to “disperse misfortune and drive out evil spirits.”
Things are even worse for Asia’s indigenous elephants; there are only 30,000 left. Unlike their African cousins, only the males grow tusks, so the ivory trade is severely depleting the XY end of the gene pool. And with Asia’s large and fertile population of people, additional elephants are killed each year in run-ins with their counterpart indigenous humans, as elephant migratory routes take them through villages and over highways.
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