In this commitment, WCS, along with partner the Frankfurt Zoological Society, commits to bolstering the enforcement capacity of range countries to protect elephant populations currently experiencing high poaching levels. WCS has identified 13 protected areas (and their immediate buffer zones), in Central and Eastern Africa, which currently are home to 45,000 elephants. WCS will scale up law enforcement in 13 key protected areas in nine African countries. This commitment invests directly in anti-poaching effectiveness by supporting park guards over the next three years through funding improvements in equipment, training, law enforcement monitoring, mission costs, aerial surveillance, intelligence gathering, and salary support.
Across these sites, the percentage of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) averages 67 percent. CITES MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants program), which has promulgated PIKE as the best single measure of poaching intensity, estimates that a value of 50 percent or higher at any site indicates unsustainable killing and population decline. This commitment aims to reduce the average PIKE rate across these sites to below 50 percent by 2016 with elephant population decline halted in half of the sites. This will bring the effort halfway to reversing the decline in Africa's elephant population.
WCS pledges to dedicate million over three years to efforts to scale up law enforcement in 13 key protected areas in nine African countries (see Geographic Information below) that together harbor some 45,000 elephants. This commitment invests directly in anti-poaching effectiveness by supporting approximately 500 park guards over the next three years through equipment, training, law enforcement monitoring, mission costs, aerial surveillance, better intelligence, and salary support. WCS projects that this investment will reduce the average percentage of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) across these sites from 67 percent to below 50 percent, with elephant population decline halted in half of the sites. This will bring the effort halfway to reversing the decline in Africa's elephant population.
Protected areas are: Mbam Djerem NP, Cameroon; Conkouati-Douli NP, Congo; Nouabale-Ndoki NP, Congo; Okapi Wildlife Reserve, DR Congo; Salonga NP, DR Congo; Ivindo NP, Gabon; Loango NP, Gabon; Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique; Yankari NP, Nigeria; Boma-Jonglei Landscape, SouthSudan; Ruaha NP, Tanzania; Tarangire NP, Tanzania; and Murchison Falls NP, Uganda.
As one of the world's most lucrative criminal activities, valued at -10 billion annually, the illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil, and counterfeiting. Increasing consumer demand for ivory, particularly in Asia is causing the price of ivory to skyrocket, driving the illegal trade in elephant ivory, and the mass slaughter of elephants in Africa. Today's ivory traffickers are primarily well-organized syndicates that operate as transnational criminal networks and often participate in other illegal activities, including trafficking in narcotics and weapons, and many have links with terrorist networks. The poachers not only threaten the lives of elephants, but also at least 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past ten years as they try to protect elephants and other wildlife.
African elephants are being lost at an unprecedented rate and demand for ivory shows no decline. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed illegally every year across Africa with some 35,000 lost in 2012 alone; that's an average of 96 elephants per day. African forest elephants in particular have been affected by poaching and have declined by 76 percent since 2002. There are now only about 80,000 remaining in the wild. A major challenge to stopping the trafficking is the lack of effective law enforcement controls along the trade chain from Africa, through the transit states, and to the end consumer markets. Legal domestic ivory markets are an enforcement challenge and often serve to provide cover for laundering of ivory from illegally killed elephants in Africa. Once ivory is within a country's borders, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish legal from illegal ivory. As long as demand for ivory remains high and enforcement effort is low, the legal trade will continue to serve as a front and criminal syndicates will continue to drive elephant poaching across Africa. In order to save elephants, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is working to address the problem on three fronts: 1) Stop the killing; 2) Stop the trafficking; and 3) Stop the demand.
The partnership seeks additional partners to provide financial or in-kind support in order to scale up anti-poaching enforcement at the 13 priority elephant sites by supporting an additional 500 park guards.
Partners are offering financial resources, technical expertise, monitoring, training and enforcement support, and other in-kind resources.