NEW YORK (October 27, 2017) – The following statement is from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President for Species Conservation.  WCS works on elephant conservation in 12 countries in Africa.

“While we welcome the announcement from the CITES Secretariat that African elephant poaching has declined and ivory seizures have hit record highs, we must caution that in many parts of Africa, elephants are still widely targeted by poachers, and that the killing and ivory trafficking continue at an alarming rate.

“The CITES data show that the number of poached carcasses recorded is dropping in East Africa.  Kenya and Tanzania, for example, are more vigilant, and are having greater success in securing convictions for poachers and imposing stiffer penalties. However, this has resulted in trafficking networks now turning their attention to Mozambique and Central Africa where elephants are continuing to be slaughtered at unsustainable levels. In Central Africa, the vast majority of elephant carcasses discovered in the forests have been killed by poachers, and this proportion has not greatly changed since 2007. Similarly, the CITES data does not include 2017 information, and elephant poaching levels are very high and unsustainable in Mozambique this year.

“WCS and its 96 Elephants campaign is hopeful that closing domestic ivory markets will soon have a positive effect in areas still ravaged by poaching. Indeed, the recent moves to reduce ivory sales within China have greatly reduced the price of ivory there, and thus the profitability of poaching in Africa. In the meantime, we must not let down our guard, and we must continue unrelenting pressure to protect vulnerable populations of elephants and to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand.”