Activists in More Than 100 Cities to March Saturday Against Elephant and Rhino Poaching

If killing continues at current rates, advocates say the iconic animals could be eradicated from the wild in two decades.

(Photo: Chris Minihane/Getty Images)

Oct 3, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Each year, 35,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are killed for their valuable tusks and horns.

If those numbers hold, animal rights advocates say there won’t be any of either species left to kill in 20 years.

To draw attention to the plight of elephants and rhinos, activists are holding the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on Oct. 4.

“The countdown to their extinction has begun—unless action is taken now, we will lose these majestic, highly intelligent, and emotionally sentient creatures forever,” the march’s Facebook page states.

Marches are planned in more than 30 cities across the United States, with more than 100 across the world. Organizers are hoping to raise awareness about the deadly consequences of the ivory and rhino horn trade. Tusks can fetch $1,500 a pound on the global black market, and rhino horn can sell on the streets of Vietnam for as much $30,000 per pound.

While much of the focus has been on Asian demand for elephant tusks and rhino horns, the U.S. continues to be the world’s second-largest ivory market, behind China.

For instance, California banned the import of ivory in 1977 but allows trade to continue in ivory imported prior to that year. Los Angeles and San Francisco are the second- and third-largest markets for ivory in the United States.

This “legacy” ivory creates an enforcement problem.

“There really aren’t enough Fish and Wildlife agents to undertake a big project to try and sort out illegal from legal ivory for sale in California, or anywhere else in the country,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jill Burchell told The California Report.

While advocates are pushing for stricter bans state by state, President Obama is working on a nationwide ban that is so comprehensive, musicians and gun collectors have complained it would render ivory-inlaid antiques worthless.