Over its lifetime, an elephant contributes over $1.6 million to travel companies, airlines and local economies thanks to tourists willing to pay generously for a chance to see and photograph the world's largest land mammal. By comparison, dead an elephant is worth $21,000 (raw ivory estimate) to fund criminal groups, corrupt officials and even terrorist groups.
Worryingly, the report notes that law enforcement in developed countries typically seize only 10 percent of general goods contraband such as ivory. This suggests that up to 178 tonnes (about 400,000 pounds) of ivory could have been illegally trafficked this year, representing 19,400 elephants killed.
A key driver of elephant poaching across Africa is ongoing demand from China and Far Eastern countries. Last year, an estimated 50 tonnes (slightly more than 110,000 pounds) of ivory was seized worldwide and poaching has now reached critical levels.