Tens of thousands of elephants likely killed last year, experts say [View all]
By Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com
Providing the grimmest count yet on Africa's wildlife crisis, the global body tracking endangered species reported Thursday that tens of thousands of elephants likely were slaughtered last year by poachers after their tusks. Rhinos, while fewer in number, also saw mass slaughter as poachers went after their horns.
Prices for both have skyrocketed due to demand in Asia, where tusks are used for ivory ornaments and horns as a traditional medicine.
The illegal trade is escalating and "pushing these species toward extinction," John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, said in testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In the case of rhinos, just 25,000 of which are estimated left in the wild, extinction could come "during the lifetime of our children," he added.