Over 25,000 elephants were slaughtered last year in the growing illicit ivory trade — sometimes entire herds gunned down from helicopters. Elephant poaching in Africa reached its highest levels in 2011 since the global ivory ban went into effect over 20 years ago and elephant numbers are dwindling. This slaughter has been fueled by a growing demand for ivory in Asia, mostly China, where the tusks are carved into valuable religious objects. The ivory trafficking also finances African militia groups in the Congo, Uganda and Sudan. This hour, we’ll look at what’s behind the dramatic increase in elephant poaching, what it means for these majestic animals and what can be done to curb it. Marty talks with BRYAN CHRISTY, a contributing writer to National Geographic and author of the magazine’s October cover story “Ivory Worship,” and GEORGE WITTEMYER, the Chairman of the Scientific Board of Save the Elephants and an Assistant Professor in Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University.
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Photo Credit: AP Images / Khalil Senosi