As recently as ten years ago, out of every ten African elephants that died, four fell at the hands of poachers. The figure today is eight. Rhinoceroses are being slaughtered throughout their ranges. The Vietnamese one-horned rhinoceros is extinct, the western black rhino is now believed to be extinct, and the northern white rhinoceros, the largest of them all, survives - only precariously - in captivity. Since the worldwide ban on ivory trading was passed in 1989, author Ronald Orenstein has been at the heart of the fight. The ban came after a decade that saw half of Africa's elephants slaughtered by poachers. After the ban, Africa's elephants started to recover - but in 1997 the ban was partially relaxed, and in 2008 it was agreed that China could legally import ivory from four designated States in southern Africa. Today a new ivory crisis has arisen - this time, fuelled by internal wars in Africa and a growing market in the Far East. Seizures of smuggled ivory have shot up in the past two years. Bands of militia have crossed from one side of Africa to the other, slaughtering elephants with automatic weapons.
At the same time a market surge in Vietnam has led to an onslaught against the world's rhinoceroses, animals far more endangered than elephants. Rhinos are being killed everywhere for their horns, mistakenly believed to cure cancer. Horns have changed hands at prices higher per kilo than for gold. Organized crime has moved into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn. The situation, for both elephants and rhinos, is dire. This captivating book sketches out a crime story that, for most, is unseen and takes place thousands of miles away and in countries that few will visit. But like the trade in illegal drugs, the trade in elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns has far-reaching implications not only for two species of endangered animals but also for all of us who are ultimately touched by a world-wide underground economy whose pillars are organized crime, corruption and violence. Among the topics explored are: Ivory and Luxury; Rhino Horn and Medicine; What Makes Poachers Poach?; CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora); The Ivory Crisis and the Ban; Rhinos Under Guard; Coming to Grips with Poaching.
Ronald Orenstein is a zoologist, lawyer and wildlife conservationist who has written extensively on a wide range of natural history issues. His most recent book is Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins. He is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton is one of the world's foremost authorities on the African elephant. He pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior in Tanzania's Lake Manyara National Park at age 23. He founded Save the Elephants in 1993 and was awarded the illustrious Order of the British Empire (OBE).