Poaching for ivory kills more than 25,000 elephants annually and has reached levels only seen before the 1989 international trade ban. In 2012, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone. These are precipitous increases from just a few years ago and, if not stemmed, could lead to the extinction of African rhinos and elephants in our lifetime.
A survey conducted in November of 2012 in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou by the Chinese research company, HorizonKey, found that:
-- More than half of the nearly 1,000 participants (over 50%) do not think elephant poaching is common;
-- 34%, or one in three respondents, believe ivory is obtained from natural elephant mortality;
-- Only 33% of all participants believe elephants are poached for their tusks; and
-- 94% of residents agree the "Chinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade."
Although the international trade in ivory is banned, a one-off sale in 2008 perpetuated a legal market for ivory in China and Japan. Reports show widespread abuse of the system to launder illegal ivory in China, and seizure and intelligence reports indicate China is the world's largest market for ivory.
Meanwhile, a similar survey conducted by HorzionKey in the same three major Chinese cities on rhino horn perceptions found that:
-- 66% of all participants, that is two out of every three respondents, are not aware that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos;
-- Nearly 50% believed rhino horn can be legally purchased from official stores; and
-- 95% of residents agree the "Chinese government should take stricter action to prevent use of rhino horns."
Traditional Chinese Medicine officially removed rhino horn from the pharmacopeia in China in 1993. These surveys, however, discovered that consumers are now buying rhino horn due to belief in its aphrodisiac properties and fever reducing capabilities. Rhino horn is also being used as a perceived investment and as an ornament or carving....