Underground Ivory Trade in the U.S

“Who the f— wants to shoot an elephant?” says actor Aaron Eckhart in the film “Meet Bill.”

In 1979, an estimated 1.3 million elephants roamed the surface of the planet. 10 years later, the same could be said of only 600,000.

Today, over four decades later, fewer than 500,000 Asian and African elephants exist, thanks to poaching and the ivory trade.

According to The Economist, as many as 25,000 elephants are poached and killed for their prized ivory tusks each year.

According to National Geographic, 22 elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park were slaughtered during a single attack in January of 2013. In Chad, Zakouma National Park has lost 90 percent of its elephants to poachers in the past decade.

While the rapid decline in population of African elephants is more commonly reported, The Washington Times reported that the greatest demand for new ivory comes from Asia.

“It’s selfish,” said Adida Manseka, first-year at Chowan University and former resident of the Congo, in an interview with The Guilfordian. “They only want money in their pockets.”

According to Manseka, poachers in Africa and Asia will not be deterred unless multiple nations and anti-poaching organizations work together to end the ivory trade.

“It all pisses me off,” said Manseka. “Too bad one person can’t really make a difference.”

According to The Washington Times, the Obama administration wants to implement a ban on virtually all ivory trade in the U.S. Currently, all ivory exports except for antique pieces are banned, but all imports — including antiques — are banned.

However, poachers and black market traders have found success in their attempts to continue illegal activity.