Did you know that about 3% of the total African elephant population was killed in just one year?  Poaching African elephants is a big problem.  Only about 450,000 - 700,000 exist in the wild today.  In the 19th century however, there were about 27 million elephants roaming in the wild.  Central Africa has lost 64% of its elephant population in a mere decade!  Now, you may think that there are laws that would stop poachers from killing these elephants, right?  Unfortunately, it is extremely hard for the poor and corrupt governments to protect these large creatures.  Only about 30% - 40% of all the elephants in Africa are protected.  An example of this would be the 2012 elephant genocide, when over 1/12 of the elephant population was moved down by poachers armed with automatic weapons.  It's not just the elephants that are impacted, but the environment as well.

Elephants are an important part of the African ecosystem.  Elephants are considered a "keystone species."  They are deemed essential to the dispersal of fruit seeds.  This dispersal creates more food for the hungry continent.  As elephants walk, they can open up forestlands, create grasslands, and when they dig, they can create ponds.  Doing all these "chores", elephants have earned the nickname of " mega-gardners of the forest."  So if elephants make such a positive impact on the environment, why are they being killed?  It all comes down to their tusks.

Ivory is now priced at $700 per pound.  A set of tusks from an adult elephant weighs approximately 250 pounds.  If you do the math, that is about $175,000 per elephant.  $175,000 is enough money to feed a starving family for about 10 years.  Also, with a growing economy, elephants have lost about 2/3 of their original habitat.

In conclusion, the African Elephant population is continuing to decrease.  As Africa remains in a state where poverty runs rampant, cashing in on one pair of tusks is a much more appealing option that struggling to feed your family for an entire decade.  Overall, as long as Africa stays in poverty, the elephant population will continue to get smaller and smaller until they eventually become extinct.