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Photographer's Note

As the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014 is taking place I thought I should draw attention to the plight of the majestic African elephants and rhino.

This shot was taken in Tsavo East, Kenya. It shows a positive interaction between elephants and man. The man on the tractor is about to fix the water pipe that fills the waterhole in times of drought allowing the elephants to drink. Elephants love fresh, clean water and regularly dig up the pipe.

There are many people that spend their days and nights trying to safeguard the dwindling numbers of elephants and rhinos across the African continent, some lose their lives in the battle as poachers become bolder and more determined to slaughter the animals for money and game rangers are themselves shot trying to protect them.

Nobody knows precisely how many elephants are being killed annually across Africa's vastness, but there is no doubt that it is in the tens of thousands. The most frequent estimates suggest it is in the range of 25,000 to 36,000 a year, but one recent estimate by Dr Sam Wasser, head of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, worked out from the number of illegally traded tusks being seized, suggests the annual figure may be as high as 52,000.
There are, however, precise figures for the explosion in poaching of South Africa's rhinos. In 2007, 13 animals were killed; in 2008, the figure was 83; in 2009, it was 122; in 2010, it was 333; in 2011, it was 448; in 2012, it was 668; and last year it was 1,004.
The reason is simple: in Vietnam, where it is erroneously seen as a valuable medicine, rhino horn can be traded at an astonishing $65,000 (£40,000) per kilo. It is now worth more than gold and platinum, and is more valuable on the black market than diamonds or cocaine.
As for ivory, the price is now up to $3,000 a kilo, so a typical elephant could bring a poacher $30,000.
Why the upsurge?
An epidemic of elephant poaching to supply the ivory market in the late 1980s was brought to a halt in 1989 when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) banned the worldwide trade in ivory products.
Poaching levels then dropped throughout the 1990s; but picked up again in the mid-2000s, and according to a United Nations report published last December, they have "jumped dramatically from 2009".
Many observers think the upturn was directly related to the fact that in July 2008 China was given permission, for the first time, to take part in a "one-off" legal sale of 108 tonnes of ivory from four southern African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe – whose elephant populations were regarded at the time as relatively healthy and well-managed.
Much of what you have read above has come from the following article which I urge you to read in total. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/london-conference-2014-the-world-wakes-up-at-elephants-eleventh-hour-9117081.html

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This photograph is copyright of Rosemary Walden - © Rosemary Walden 2014. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of the image in any form is prohibited. You may not, except with my express written permission, copy, reproduce, download, distribute or exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system

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Additional Photos by Rosemary Walden (SnapRJW) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2499 W: 67 N: 5926] (27012)
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