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Elephant family wiped out by poachers in Kenya - urgent response needed

10 January 2013

We’re shocked by the news this week that an entire family of 12 elephants has been machine-gunned and butchered for their tusks in Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

It’s the single worst elephant slaughter ever recorded in the country. Kenya’s wildlife service says it’s already on the trail of the poachers and is hopeful they can be caught. But it’s just the latest in a string of barbaric attacks on threatened and prized species like elephants and rhinos across Africa - and we need to see international action immediately.

Drew McVey, our African elephant and rhino specialist, says: “This horrific crime demonstrates the lengths that poachers will go to get ivory – even killing a two-month old calf.

“It highlights the need for the international community to work together to address the global increase in poaching and wildlife crime. Not just in the African states where elephant populations are being targetted, but also in the destination countries, particularly in Asia, where there are consumers driving the demand, as well as in the transit territories through which illegal ivory and other animal parts are being smuggled.”

As our campaigns director Colin Butfield told ITV news today, punishments for those at the top of the criminal cartels involved are “not at all commensurate with the crimes”.

Even though Kenya banned ivory trade in 1989, in line with the international CITES controls agreed that year, elephant poaching and ivory smuggling have been on the rise again across Africa in recent times - mainly because of growing demand from increasingly wealthy consumers in countries like China and Thailand (usually for ivory ornaments or jewellery).

Tom Milliken of our wildlife trade monitoring partners TRAFFIC has referred to the situation as an "elephant crisis", telling ITV news: “We’re talking about thousands of elephants being killed in a single year - that’s not sustainable in the long-term.”

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