January 1, 2012
The 13 largest hauls of ivory intercepted by customs officials around the world in 2011 weighed in at a combined 23 tons, probably taken from more than 2,500 slain elephants, according to Traffic, an international organization that monitors wildlife trade.
Despite efforts by enforcement agencies and campaigners, overall demand shows no sign of abating. Smuggling rare creatures for use as pets, food, decoration or their (often disputed) medicinal benefits is a profitable business. Traffic said most of the illegal shipments of African elephant ivory end up in China or Thailand.