The problems of bribery and corruption are severely crippling the ability of nations to fight poaching. While the governments have to keep slashing budgets, the criminals are increasingly organized and able to pay bribes to keep their illegal trade going. Some fear it will lead to elephant extinction in Africa and Asia.
A major problem is the low pay for the people charged with protecting wildlife. In some countries, rangers earn as little as A$30 – A$100 per month. But ivory from a single elephant can bring as much as A$9,000 at that stage of the black market. One A$2,000 bribe to a ranger to look the other way is the equivalent of two or three years pay.
Another facet of a possible extinction is the ridiculously low price smugglers pay for their crimes. In Ireland last month, two men were fined €500 each for attempting to smuggle in A$613,000 worth of illegal Rhino horns.
Africa’s largest elephant slaughter of the year took place last month in southwestern Chad, close to the Cameroon border. Poachers killed 86 animals, and rangers apparently had no ability to stop them or even track their movements though the bush. Tanzania is losing around 70 elephants a day to poachers. The country has seen around half of its elephants slaughtered in just the last three years.
The vast majority of the ivory and other endangered species goes to Southeast Asia for processing and then on to the growing consumer class in China.