According to a recent survey and research, the population of these African elephants, that currently number around 600,000, is decreasing by about 38,000 each passing year. These figures have been calculated using the annual number of illegal tusk seized, which have significantly exceeded the elephant birth rate, meaning these mammals could face complete extinction within the next fifteen years. This has been reported in the Scientific American Journal.

The worldwide illegal trade in wildlife is valued at tens of billions of USD’s and is believed to have the same significance now, as the blood diamond trade during the peak of the African civil wars. In 2006 alone, eleven metric tonnes of illegal ivory were seized from ships bound for countries like Taiwan, China and Japan.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) says that immediate action is needed to be taken to protect these mammals from complete extinction. The group calls for the European Union and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) members to stop supporting legal sales of ivory products in the open market of developing countries. Instead these members have been urged to back Kenya’s new proposal to extend the current “resting period” on elephants and ivory sales from nine to twenty years at the next CITES meeting which is to be held in March 2010.

The alarming level of illegal hunting could drive the African elephant to extinction across the entire in just 15 years from now says the director of IFAW UK. He adds: Most people will be shocked to hear that, although 20 years on from a ban on international ivory trade, elephants in Africa are the biggest threat by commercial poaching. The ivory trade must be banned once again, and this time with strict laws need to be enforced, if we want to prevent the extinction of these huge mammals. Sadly, the truth is that ivory trade is a threat to elephants anywhere on this planet.

Chad’s Zakouma National Park had 3,785 elephants in the year 2005 but by 2009 the figure had dropped to 617. At least 11 forest rangers were killed by poachers there during the same period.

Elephants are not the only one’s in the illegal trafficking of wildlife parts. In the last few years, 57,00 reptile skins from India, 18,000 big-eye thresher shark fins in Ecuador and 24 metric tonnes of pangolin in Asia have been seized by commercial wildlife part poachers. This indicates there are many other animal species which are on the verge of extinction by poachers and we humans should intervene and stop this illegal trafficking of wildlife parts.