LE MONDE (France), NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
GABON - Authorities in Gabon burned more than 4.5 tons of illegal ivory this week after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species released a report showing that elephant poaching has reached a record high in the past few years.
The year 2011 saw the highest recorded levels of elephant killings since the ivory trade was banned in 1989, according to National Geographic. Some 24.3 tons of ivory were intercepted last year, with most of it destined for China and Thailand, where demand and prices are rising.
Le Monde reports that more than 1,200 raw pieces and 17,000 sculpted pieces of ivory were burned in the bonfire personally lit by Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba on Wednesday, as a gesture to show support for protecting elephants.
The total value of the burned ivory topped 7.6 million euros, and the World Wildlife Fund, which was present at the event, estimated that this represented almost 850 elephants killed.
Gabon is home to approximately 50,000 of the remaining 472,000 to 690,000 African elephants that still live on the continent. Watch the WWF video below of the Gabonese President at the ivory burning explaining his country's position on elephant poaching: