London, Oct.18 (ANI): The mighty African elephant could face extinction within 15 years due to the illegal ivory trade.
According to a Sunday Express report, poachers slaughter 104 elephants every day for their valuable tusks.
As a result, conservationists are now demanding an international crackdown on the ivory industry.
The worldwide illegal trade in wildlife is third only to drugs and arms, and is worth an estimated 12.5 billion pounds a year.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare last night warned that unless immediate action was taken, elephants would disappear from the wild within a generation.
It is calling on the EU and CITES members (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to stop supporting occasional supervised ivory sales. Instead, they are urged to back Kenya's proposal to extend the current "resting period" on elephant and ivory decisions from nine to 20 years at the next CITES meeting in March 2010.
Robbie Marsland, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: "Most people will be shocked to hear that, 20 years after the ban on the international ivory trade, elephants in Africa are still threatened by commercial poaching.
"The ivory trade must be banned once again, and comprehensively, if we want to prevent the extinction of elephants." Illegal ivory is now used as currency in East African conflicts in much the same way as "blood diamonds" were in civil wars across West Africa in the Nineties. The demand for ivory in the Far East, particularly China, has reached record levels.
Chad's Zakouma National Park had 3,885 elephants in 2005 but by 2009 the figure had plummeted to just 617. At least 11 rangers were killed by poachers there over the same period. (ANI)