The Kruger National Park in South Africa has recently experienced widespread elephant poaching. In May of last year, reports indicated that an elephant had been unlawfully killed for its prized tusks for the first time in ten years.
By mid-October of this year, 19 elephants at the park had been killed for this purpose. A total of 12 of these elephants were killed during the months of September and October alone.
Conservationists are warning South African national parks that they are at a high risk for being targeted by ivory poachers. Wildlife expert Dereck Joubert said, “South Africa can expect elephant poaching to increase dramatically in the Kruger Park.”
Since 2008, the Kruger National Park has been largely targeted by rhino poachers. These poachers usually come from across the border in Mozambique.
More than 800 rhinos were killed for their prized horns between January and September of this year. More than 4,600 rhinos have been killed in the park since 2007, representing almost 20% of their total population in Africa.
Estimates showed that the Kruger National Park had more than 17,000 elephants in 2014. Most of the elephants that have been killed this year were living in the northern Pafuri area, which is near the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. These countries have also experienced heavy losses in their elephant populations.
During the past five years, Mozambique has lost half of its elephants. And in Zimbabwe, poachers have been known to kill elephants using cyanide.
Most ivory that has been coming out of Africa has been derived from Tanzania, Northern Mozambique and Central Africa. Now that elephants in central parts of Africa are becoming less common, poachers are moving south to find more elephants. South African officials have stated that it was only a matter of time before their country became the target of elephant poachers.
Additionally, the poachers have been increasing their efforts, as the trade has grown in prominence in recent years. More and more ivory is continuing to be sold in places like China, where ivory can go for nearly $700 per pound.
For now, the amount of elephant poaching in the Kruger National Park isn’t as bad as other parts of Africa. But it is growing, and it could quickly develop into a serious issue if the situation isn’t monitored.