During 2011, more than 20,000 elephants were slaughtered for an estimated 24,000 kilograms of ivory, and wildlife officials also noted a drastic increase in large-scale seizures (more than 800 kg in a single transaction) since 2009.
The large-scale shipments, experts say, indicate the presence of organized crime. While some Africa-based wildlife officials point to primarily Asian-led crime syndicates, they refuse to provide further details for fear of jeopardizing on-going investigations.
Ivory seized by year, worldwide, from 2008 to 2012.
With ivory's market value reaching $900 per kilogram in China, the financial stakes are high, and it appears sponsors are adopting bold new tactics to satisfy demand....