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Elephants in need of more protection

The year 2011 was the worst in decades for elephants, according to a recent statement by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, The Associated Press reports.

The report stated that 2011 was perhaps the worst year for the endangered animals since 1989, the year that ivory sales were banned in an effort to save the dwindling population. Although it was banned more than 20 years ago, the ivory trade was still to blame for the steps taken toward extinction for the world's largest land animal, the news source reports.

Organized crime involving the underground, illegal trade of elephant tusks and the poaching used to get them resulted in more elephant tusks being seized in 2011 than in any year since 1989.

Although elephants dwell in Africa and Asia, ivory is in huge demand in Asia, used to make decorative objects. The TRAFFIC report notes that the rise in elephant deaths caused by poaching are due to a growing demand for these products as well as "increasing sophistication of the criminal gangs behind the trafficking," the BBC reports. Most shipments of African elephant tusks end up in China or Thailand.

"As most large-scale ivory seizures fail to result in any arrests, I fear the criminals are winning," TRAFFIC's elephant and rhino expert Tom Milliken told the AP.
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