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Elephant Ivory (1990-2023)

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Poaching by Country 2024

Poaching is defined as the illegal taking or killing of wildlife and occurs in any country or area with a substantial wildlife population. It is considered different from licensed or regulated hunting during an approved 'season' or for sustenance. Poaching is a big international business, $5 to $23 billion annually.

The endangered animals at risk are African elephants, mountain gorillas, imperial zebra, tigers, giraffes, and rare black rhinos. But poaching also includes smaller game killed out of a designated hunting season.

The animal most poached worldwide is the internationally protected Pangolins. This unusual mammal looks like a cross between an armadillo and an anteater and is often called a 'scaly anteater.' They are valued for their tender meat. Pangolin scales are used in folk medicine.

Only six countries maintain accurate poaching figures. These include South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, and India.

Most agree Zimbabwe has the largest poaching problem - over 100 rhinos are killed each year for their ivory tusks. Kenya is infamous for its giraffe hunting for their hair, meat, and bones. Elephant tusks are also a commodity, valued for their ivory.

In South Africa, elephant poaching reaches up to 100 elephants daily. And in Botswana, 35,000 elephants are killed each year. Uganda has seen a rise in hippo deaths, as well as a healthy trade in illegal elephants and rhinos. Cameroon poaching has killed over 450 elephants annually. And in Angola, giraffes are the key commodity, with roughly two dozen adults killed each year.

In Mozambique, over 90% of the African elephant population was decimated through poaching and war. This destruction has led to a unique evolutionary response - a rise in the incidence of the tuskless female African elephants.

Illegal elephant kills in Thailand supply an estimated 50% of the ivory on sale in the country. Tigers and rhinos are also in danger on the sub-Indian continent. In Laos, poachers focus hunting parties on pangolins and tigers.

India's poaching industry revolves around the tiger. The big cats are killed for their fur, meat, and bones.

China has the world's highest rate of pangolin trafficking - roughly 3 million annually. But the animal most killed in both China and Vietnam for its horn is the rhino.

Poaching is also common in the United States for meat, trophies, and folk remedies. Deer, elk, and bears drive the illegal trade.

Poaching is not exclusive to land animals. Over 100 million sharks are killed for delicacies such as shark fin soup and a wide range of folk remedies, including cancer.

The small country of Nepal, in the Himalayan Mountains, has the least number of poached animals - achieving over four years without any illegal hunting.

  • Data for Bear Poaching displays the number of shipments of Asian black bears, sun bears, and sloth bears seized going to or coming from an Asian nation (2000-2011)
  • Estimates of wild rhino poaching are recorded and reported by only a select number of countries. Data is based primarily on recorded poaching and fatalities by national authorities in national parks and reserves.
  • An average of 44,000 sea turtles were poached each year over the past decade in 65 countries or territories and in 44 of the world’s 58 major sea turtle populations.
  • An estimated 3,000 chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, and bonobos are poached from the wild every year to feed a multi-billion dollar illegal trafficking industry.
  • Weights have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a kilogram. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.

Download Table Data

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Country
Elephant Ivory (1990-2023)
African Elephant
Asian Big Cats
Bear
Pangolin 1990-2023
Asian Big Cats %
Rhino 2015
Rhino 2020
China105,931714515990.70.6%
Hong Kong75,7076150000%
Vietnam69,5941020%
Singapore28,882230%
Kenya28,7065000%116
Nigeria22,806396.40%
Malaysia22,2344380.4%
Thailand21,2197290.6%
Mozambique20,0520%13
Uganda19,1193.50%
Philippines14,3030%
India13,8299562372.588%247
Tanzania9,0070%2
Cameroon8,2260%
Cambodia6,50711900.1%
Zimbabwe6,1440%504
DR Congo5,3950%2
Togo5,3420%
Zambia5,1212050%
Taiwan4,737100%
United Arab Emirates4,6980%
Spain4,6080%
Gabon4,4710%
Malawi4,422120%1
South Africa3,26118410.1%1175451
Angola3,1570%
France2,8830%
United States2,6290%
Egypt2,3910%
Ethiopia2,3500%
South Sudan2,2620%
Namibia2,167570%9740
Republic of the Congo1,9270%
Germany1,3740%
Ivory Coast99430000%
Benin9890%
United Kingdom9740%
Botswana913600%55
Austria5640%
Italy5570%
Chad5530%
Saudi Arabia4900%
Belgium3850%
South Korea351120%
Switzerland2670%
Burkina Faso1860%
Laos175290%
Indonesia133581153.4%
Czech Republic1190%
Australia1100%
Japan7590%
Portugal710%
Sri Lanka69151.4%
Senegal550%
Nepal5112535.51.1%1
Ghana400%
Burundi280%
Central African Republic270%
Israel270%
Norway240%
New Zealand240%
Bangladesh70%
Turkey70%
Canada70%
Ireland50%
Niger30%
Romania20%
Pakistan100.9%
Russia13591.2%
Myanmar61 (2016-2021)12450.1%
Mongolia10%
Bhutan10.1%
showing: 72 rows

Which countries are affected by poaching?

The illegal taking of wildlife affects countries around the world. Nations with the most poaching are: China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Kenya.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources