2012 'worst year ever' for illegal ivory trade in Africa

Last updated at 09:25
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Nel reports on the illegal ivory trade

Elephant conservationists have announced that a total of 34 tons of ivory has been seized in 2012.

It is the highest total of ivory confiscated in a single year since records began, making it the worst year in the fight against elephant poaching.

According to wildlife experts, the number of elephants killed per day stands at between four and five.

Illegal ivory confiscatedGetty Images

Demand for ivory is so great that conservationists fear African elephants could soon be driven to extinction.

Jason Bell, boss at an elephant conservation group said:

"It is an indication of an illegal industry completely out of control - in 2011, we thought the threats to elephants could not get any worse."

Taking advantage

He said poachers are taking advantage of the dry season, targeting poorly-guarded elephant populations.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia where it is very popular.

Last month, five tons of ivory was found in Hong Kong, on ships from Kenya and Tanzania - but authorities aren't sure which wildlife reserves they came from.

Earlier this year, at least half of the elephants in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park were slaughtered for their ivory by poachers on horseback.

Mr Bell said: "It is clear the slaughter of elephants for their ivory will only end when there are no more markets for ivory products... or when there are no more elephants to kill."