Elephants and Ivory: Our Work to End Africa's Poaching Crisis

African elephants are in crisis. The demand for ivory has skyrocketed and can now fetch more than $600 per pound on the black market. This increased demand has sent poaching rates soaring, with an estimated one elephant killed every 15 minutes.

Beyond the immediate effects this has on the ecosystem, poaching also threatens the livelihoods of people living in places where elephants range. Poachers spread crime and rob communities of one of their most valuable assets. Elephants draw tourists from around the world, providing a legal, sustainable source of income for people living in communities where elephants range.

In response, the Nature Conservancy in Africa has launched the African Elephant Initiative to scale up and expand our elephant conservation efforts.

What We’re Doing

The African Elephant Initiative is employing five key strategies to reverse the trend of the poaching crisis:

• Increase security measures
• Secure elephant habitat
• Gain local support
• Reduce demand for ivory
• Engage supporters

Understanding Ivory

The ivory issue is complex and can be confusing, since not all ivory is illegal. But the tide is beginning to turn on legal ivory: In September 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping announced a commitment to enact an near-complete ban on ivory imports and exports. In June 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enacted a near-total ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory, and China committed to creating a timetable for their ban by year's end. 

• Find the answers to nine key questions you might have about ivory and the ivory trade.

• Hear how TNC’s Beijing-based Ivory Project Director Xiaohua Sun answers five key questions about the demand for ivory and what we can do about it.

Partners and Sponsors

Much like the elephants themselves, this problem is large and complex. We can’t do this alone. We are grateful for all the people and organizations that are coming together to tackle this issue through our key campaigns, including:

• Martin Guitar: As the founding sponsor of our #SaveElephants campaign, Martin Guitar has donated several custom, signed guitars to the effort, including a D-28 signed by Sir Paul McCartney himself that raised $50,000 at auction.

•Tencent Corporation: On May 22, 2015, Tencent Corporation, Asia’s second-largest internet company, joined the International Fund for Animal Welfare and TNC in a joint campaign — Tencent for the Planet — to combat online wildlife trade, especially focusing on illegal ivory business conducted on WeChat and QQ (large social media tools serviced by Tencent).

•On-the-Ground Partners: This work would not be possible without partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia to employ and train anti-poaching security officers, develop alternative livelihood programs with local communities and help ensure elephants and people can live side-by-side peaceably. For example, check out how Northern Rangeland Trust's BeadWORKS program is providing 1,000 women in northern Kenya with income-earning opportunities from beaded products or how Honeyguide Foundation is using an innovative system of flashlights, firecrackers and chili powder to help farmers redirect elephants off their farmland.  

what you can DO

We are so inspired by the thousands of people who have joined us in our effort to #SaveElephants in Africa, and you can join us, too!

  • Join our herd to receive monthly elephant updates and action alerts.
  • Follow @nature_africa on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to help us spread the word about the poaching crisis in Africa. 
  • Make a gift to elephants — you can be confident that your donation will go directly to our elephant protection strategies.