Worldwide elephant populations are dwindling, though that's not necessarily the case for members of the species who live in parts of Asia -- in China, to be exact, where one of the world's largest ivory markets continues to thrive and where the demand continues to grow. But, as the New York Times reports, the number of Asian elephants in southwest China has grown substantially in recent years:
Over the past two decades, the number of Asiatic elephants in Yunnan Province in China has roughly doubled, to nearly 300, thanks to government-financed feeding programs, wildlife education efforts and a strict elephant protection law unmatched anywhere else in the world. Convicted poachers in China face the death penalty.
Since 1995, when four people were executed by firing squad for killing an elephant, only a handful of domestic elephants have been poached for their tusks, according to the state news media, and not one in the past decade.
"Elephants have it pretty good here because it's safe and there is plenty to eat," said Chang Zongbo, a local forestry official. "Once the elephants cross the border from Laos, where hunting is allowed, they never want to go back."
But none of this should imply that things are going smoothly for Asian elephants. In China, habitat degradation still threatens the mammals, and rubber trees are coming to dominate the forests where elephants live. "The destruction is a national tragedy," Chang said. "We need the central government to put their foot down and help; otherwise the elephant is doomed."
The ivory trade drives a brutal campaign of international poaching that killed 22,000 elephants in 2012 alone, despite a global ban on the sale of ivory. Join us in pledging never to buy new or vintage ivory products -- which include narwhal, walrus and hippo ivory -- to help save the world's animals from poaching.
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