The U.K. will be hosting the next international illegal wildlife trade conference, scheduled to take place in 2018.
This year, Hanoi, Vietnam was the host. This is significant because Vietnam is one of the top buyers of ivory in the world. Ivory is seen as a status symbol, a medicine, and a key to good luck. Although Vietnam’s government has vowed to combat the illegal wildlife trade, it is still common to see products sold openly at markets throughout the country.
The numbers are scary. 20,000 elephants were poached in Africa last year. If this rate of destruction continues, wild elephant extinction is a real possibility within this century. Today, it is estimated only 50,000 elephants remain in Asia, and less than 500,000 in the entire continent of Africa. If that sounds like a lot, just imagine how there were likely 26 million African elephants in the year 1800!
42 countries participated this year in the conference, including the USA. The USA pledged over $9 million for a new Saving Species initiative, partnering with Vietnam to help increase their wildlife law enforcement capabilities. It will be implemented as a 5 year long program.
Photo: a photo I took in Thailand