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World Animal Day - 5 numbers to put elephant poaching in perspective

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

At a landmark meeting of 182 nations this past Sunday, it was resolved that the world's legal ivory markets must be closed immediately. The agreement was struck in a desperate attempt to curb the ongoing poaching of elephants, an act that is threatening to drive the magnificent creatures to extinction.

The countries, who had come together as part of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg, for the first time in its history, agreed that a total ban on the ivory trade rather than just regulating it is the way forward.

While international trade in ivory is banned, the sale of pieces of ivory domestically is allowed in a large number of countries. These markets offer subterfuge for the trade of fresh ivory from poached elephants. This new resolution, while a far cry from an actual and outright global ban, is a step in the right direction.

The urgency of the situation is evident in the following grim numbers:


  • The time interval between elephant killings.

  • This has ensured that African elephants are now classified as facing extinction while Asian elephants are endangered.


  • The total weight of ivory burned earlier this year in Kenya, the largest ever.

  • The elephant ivory was arranged in eleven towers, each 10-foot-high by 20-feet-wide.

  • Combined with 1.35 tons of rhino horn also burned and other illegal animal products, the value of the pile was $150 million.


  • The number of African elephants poached between 2010 and 2012

  • This peaked in 2011 with 1 in 12 African elephants poached.

  • This was almost 30% of the African elephant population.


  • The number of Asian elephants in 1900 AD

  • This has since reduced by over 50% to less than 40,000 elephants alive today.

  • Now, they inhabit less than 15% of their original range.

1.3 million

  • Number of African elephants in 1979 according to first pan-Africa census

  • That number is down to 352, 271 across 93% of their habitat. This excludes forest elephants whose populations have also dropped 60% since 2002.

  • Their habitat has shrunk to 20% its original size since 1979.

First published: 4 October 2016, 6:12 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.