Africa's poaching crisis

Africa's

biggest animals were poached in near record numbers in 2012, with

surging demand for horn and ivory from Asia driving the slaughter of

rhinos and elephants. Poachers have killed hundreds of rhinos in South Africa and thousands of elephants, according to environment ministry figures.

In this Jan. 27, 2012 photo released by WWF-Canon, forest elephants gather at Dzanga Bai clearing in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve, in Central African Republic. Elephant meat is flooding food markets in villages near the famed wildlife reserve in Central African Republic one month after rebels believed to be involved in poaching overthrew the government, conservationists said Thursday, April 25, 2013. The Dzanga-Sangha reserve in the rainforests of southwestern Central African Republic has been home to more than 3,400 forest elephants. Now the political chaos unleashed by a rebellion that overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade has enabled elephant poachers to further their slaughter.(AP Photo/Carlos Drews, WWF-Canon) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this Jan. 27, 2012 photo released by WWF-Canon, forest elephants gather at Dzanga Bai clearing in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve, in Central African Republic. Elephant meat is flooding food markets in villages near the famed wildlife reserve in Central African Republic one month after rebels believed to be involved in poaching overthrew the government, conservationists said Thursday, April 25, 2013. The Dzanga-Sangha reserve in the rainforests of southwestern Central African Republic has been home to more than 3,400 forest elephants. Now the political chaos unleashed by a rebellion that overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade has enabled elephant poachers to further their slaughter.(AP Photo/Carlos Drews, WWF-Canon) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this Jan. 27, 2012 photo released by WWF-Canon, forest elephants gather at Dzanga Bai clearing in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve, in Central African Republic. Elephant meat is flooding food markets in villages near the famed wildlife reserve in Central African Republic one month after rebels believed to be involved in poaching overthrew the government, conservationists said Thursday, April 25, 2013. The Dzanga-Sangha reserve in the rainforests of southwestern Central African Republic has been home to more than 3,400 forest elephants. Now the political chaos unleashed by a rebellion that overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade has enabled elephant poachers to further their slaughter.(AP Photo/Carlos Drews, WWF-Canon) MANDATORY CREDIT
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 file photo, a white rhino grazes in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. Alarmed that rebel militias could be profiting from a sharp increase in the poaching of elephants and rhinos, the U.S. plans to step up efforts to build a global coalition to combat the illegal wildlife trade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 file photo, a white rhino grazes in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. Alarmed that rebel militias could be profiting from a sharp increase in the poaching of elephants and rhinos, the U.S. plans to step up efforts to build a global coalition to combat the illegal wildlife trade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 file photo, a white rhino grazes in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. Alarmed that rebel militias could be profiting from a sharp increase in the poaching of elephants and rhinos, the U.S. plans to step up efforts to build a global coalition to combat the illegal wildlife trade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident in South Africa, April 19, 2012. Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal piece of Asia's scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of the region's newly affluent classes. In South Africa, nearly two rhinos a day are being killed to meet demand for the animal's horn, which is worth more than its weight in gold.
Africa's poaching problem
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident in South Africa, April 19, 2012. Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal piece of Asia's scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of the region's newly affluent classes. In South Africa, nearly two rhinos a day are being killed to meet demand for the animal's horn, which is worth more than its weight in gold.
Poached ivory elephant tusks confiscated by anti-poaching patrols, Gabon, Africa
Poached ivory elephant tusks confiscated by anti-poaching patrols, Gabon, Africa
Poached ivory elephant tusks confiscated by anti-poaching patrols, Gabon, Africa
Soldiers arrange a pyre of elephant tusks and thousands of pieces of worked ivory as they prepare to burn ivory stocks corresponding to roughly 850 dead elephants, in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Conservation organization WWF lauded Gabon's destruction of its ivory stocks, saying the move demonstrated the country's commitment to curbing poaching and the illegal ivory trade. CITES, the world body which regulates the international wildlife trade, last week issued a report saying that elephant poaching in Africa is at its highest rates since monitoring began in 2002. (AP Photo/Joel Bouopda Tatou)
Soldiers arrange a pyre of elephant tusks and thousands of pieces of worked ivory as they prepare to burn ivory stocks corresponding to roughly 850 dead elephants, in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Conservation organization WWF lauded Gabon's destruction of its ivory stocks, saying the move demonstrated the country's commitment to curbing poaching and the illegal ivory trade. CITES, the world body which regulates the international wildlife trade, last week issued a report saying that elephant poaching in Africa is at its highest rates since monitoring began in 2002. (AP Photo/Joel Bouopda Tatou)
Soldiers arrange a pyre of elephant tusks and thousands of pieces of worked ivory as they prepare to burn ivory stocks corresponding to roughly 850 dead elephants, in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Conservation organization WWF lauded Gabon's destruction of its ivory stocks, saying the move demonstrated the country's commitment to curbing poaching and the illegal ivory trade. CITES, the world body which regulates the international wildlife trade, last week issued a report saying that elephant poaching in Africa is at its highest rates since monitoring began in 2002. (AP Photo/Joel Bouopda Tatou)
COMMERCIAL PHOTO - In this photograph released by WWF-Canon via AP Images, ñ Mba Ndong Marius, an Eco Guard from Oyem, holds seized ivory tusks and stands in front of confiscated weapons following an anti-poaching patrol in northern Gabon on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba last year created an elite military unit whose mission is to secure Gabon's parks and to protect wildlife, especially against poaching and illegal trade of ivory. Across Central Africa, thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks, which are in demand as carvings and ornaments in Asia. An estimated 5,000 to 12,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory. Gabon's work to put an end to ivory related wildlife crime has the strong support and involvement of WWF. (WWF-Canon / James Morgan via AP Images)
COMMERCIAL PHOTO - In this photograph released by WWF-Canon via AP Images, ñ Mba Ndong Marius, an Eco Guard from Oyem, holds seized ivory tusks and stands in front of confiscated weapons following an anti-poaching patrol in northern Gabon on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba last year created an elite military unit whose mission is to secure Gabon's parks and to protect wildlife, especially against poaching and illegal trade of ivory. Across Central Africa, thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks, which are in demand as carvings and ornaments in Asia. An estimated 5,000 to 12,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory. Gabon's work to put an end to ivory related wildlife crime has the strong support and involvement of WWF. (WWF-Canon / James Morgan via AP Images)
COMMERCIAL PHOTO - In this photograph released by WWF-Canon via AP Images, ñ Mba Ndong Marius, an Eco Guard from Oyem, holds seized ivory tusks and stands in front of confiscated weapons following an anti-poaching patrol in northern Gabon on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba last year created an elite military unit whose mission is to secure Gabon's parks and to protect wildlife, especially against poaching and illegal trade of ivory. Across Central Africa, thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks, which are in demand as carvings and ornaments in Asia. An estimated 5,000 to 12,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory. Gabon's work to put an end to ivory related wildlife crime has the strong support and involvement of WWF. (WWF-Canon / James Morgan via AP Images)
A pair of elephants walk through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
Africa's poaching problem
A pair of elephants walk through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
The carcasses of some of the 22 elephants slaughtered in a helicopter-borne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military. A record number of big ivory seizures were made globally in 2011 and the trend looks set to continue in 2012 as elephant massacres take place from Congo to Cameroon, where as many as 200 of the pachyderms, listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "vulnerable", were slain in January.
Africa's poaching problem
The carcasses of some of the 22 elephants slaughtered in a helicopter-borne attack lie on the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, in this undated handout picture released by the DRC Military. A record number of big ivory seizures were made globally in 2011 and the trend looks set to continue in 2012 as elephant massacres take place from Congo to Cameroon, where as many as 200 of the pachyderms, listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "vulnerable", were slain in January.
Activists gather as they take part in a protest against Rhinoceros poaching outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, South Africa March 29, 2012. Four staff members at South Africa's flagship Kruger National Park have been arrested on suspicion of killing rhinos and selling their horns to criminal syndicates, the park service said on Wednesday.
Africa's poaching problem
Activists gather as they take part in a protest against Rhinoceros poaching outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, South Africa March 29, 2012. Four staff members at South Africa's flagship Kruger National Park have been arrested on suspicion of killing rhinos and selling their horns to criminal syndicates, the park service said on Wednesday.
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger guards a shipment of elephant tusks during a commemoration of the 1989 ivory burning at the Nairobi National Park July 18, 2009.
Africa's poaching problem
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger guards a shipment of elephant tusks during a commemoration of the 1989 ivory burning at the Nairobi National Park July 18, 2009.
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident in South Africa April 19, 2012.
Africa's poaching problem
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident in South Africa April 19, 2012.
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger shows elephant tusks intercepted from poachers during a commemoration of the 1989 ivory burning at the Nairobi National Park July 18, 2009.
Africa's poaching problem
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger shows elephant tusks intercepted from poachers during a commemoration of the 1989 ivory burning at the Nairobi National Park July 18, 2009.
A White Rhino walks through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
Africa's poaching problem
A White Rhino walks through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
The carcass of a rhino is seen after it was killed for its horn by poachers at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province, South Africa September 14, 2011.
Africa's poaching problem
The carcass of a rhino is seen after it was killed for its horn by poachers at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province, South Africa September 14, 2011.
A warden stands guard as an illegal consignment of five tons of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi July 20, 2011. The confiscated consignment, recovered from smugglers in Singapore in 2002, originated from poaching activities in both Zambia and Malawi, government officials said.
Africa's poaching problem
A warden stands guard as an illegal consignment of five tons of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi July 20, 2011. The confiscated consignment, recovered from smugglers in Singapore in 2002, originated from poaching activities in both Zambia and Malawi, government officials said.
Dehorned rhinos are seen at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province September 16, 2011.
Africa's poaching problem
Dehorned rhinos are seen at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province September 16, 2011.
A White Rhino walks through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
Africa's poaching problem
A White Rhino walks through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province April 19, 2012.
A ranger shows part of a rhino horn after a rhino was dehorned by a veterinary surgeon to prevent poaching at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province September 16, 2011.
Africa's poaching problem
A ranger shows part of a rhino horn after a rhino was dehorned by a veterinary surgeon to prevent poaching at the Kruger national park in Mpumalanga province September 16, 2011.
An illegal consignment of five tons of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011.
Africa's poaching problem
An illegal consignment of five tons of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011.
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident April 19, 2012.
Africa's poaching problem
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident April 19, 2012.
Policeman look on as a protester carries a placard calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species, outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria September 22, 2011.
Africa's poaching problem
Policeman look on as a protester carries a placard calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species, outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria September 22, 2011.
A Congolese soldier and guard for Virunga National Park is silhouetted by the glow from a lava lake boiling in the crater of Nyiragongo volcano near Goma in eastern Congo, August 30, 2010.
Africa's poaching problem
A Congolese soldier and guard for Virunga National Park is silhouetted by the glow from a lava lake boiling in the crater of Nyiragongo volcano near Goma in eastern Congo, August 30, 2010.

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