Ivory is displayed before being crushed during a public event in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong province on January 6, 2014.
Vassil, Wikimedia Commons
The co-host of a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel recently spent $350,000 for the chance to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros in southern Africa. Corey Knowlton won the Dallas Safari Club's auction for a permit to hunt the rhino in Namibia. Knowlton says he and his family have received death threats after his name was made public through social media. "As much as I would love them all to live forever, they are going to die," Knowltontold CNN
. "The older males are killing each other, and something has to be done about it."
Nearly any animal can be legally killed in many parts of Africa, so long as the hunter pays the right amount of money. For rare and endangered species, the cost can escalate to many thousands of U.S. dollars.
"National parks are obviously trying to make money," Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told Discovery News. "The hunters have to pay the parks if they want to shoot the animals."
It can be a Catch-22, since the parks often struggle to pay their staff, which include those who work to care for and protect the animals. The high price tag of a permit may serve as a deterrent, but it also reflects how much poachers can earn without even benefiting the parks.[/br
Patrick Giraud, Wikimedia Commons
The payment needed to legally shoot an elephant drops to $50,000 in Zimbabwe, with a further loss of $10,000 if the elephant has no tusks. "The reason rhinos are more valuable than elephants is because the horn is so valuable and in such high demand by the Chinese," Rodrigues said.
Patrick Giraud, Wikimedia Commons
$20,000 can allow hunters with appropriate permits to kill several rare animals in many parts of Africa. Leopards are on that list, even though The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "threatened."
Kevin Pluck, Wikimedia Commons
The price tag on lions is also $20,000. In terms of what happens to the dead animals, "As far as I know," Rodrigues said, "once the animals are hunted, they are exported to the hunter's home country." Upon arrival, the hunter may preserve the animal's dead body and put it on display.
The cost to legally hunt a cheetah in Zimbabwe is $20,000. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "vulnerable," but further mentions that "the known cheetah population is approximately 7,500-10,000 adult animals." In 1975, the number of cheetahs in Africa was estimated at 15,000, revealing that this species has significantly declined in only three generations.
Majestic Roan antelopes also can be hunted for $20,000 in parts of Africa. While its population is more numerous than wild cats, this species has been eliminated from large parts of its former range, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss.
Paul Maritz, Wikimedia Commons
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reports that sable antelopes possess "high value as a trophy animal."
Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes the cost to hunt an animal differs if the target is male or female. That is the case for African buffalos, since males have larger horns than females do. The horn size difference costs a hunter an extra two grand to shoot a male African buffalo.
Roland H., Wikimedia Commons
A hunter must pay $5,000 to legally shoot a giraffe in Zimbabwe. The IUCN Red List reports that "a recent preliminary population estimate suggests a decline in the total population has taken place." While giraffes are currently listed as being animals of "least concern," that classification might soon change if the estimate is substantiated.
Valdiney Pimenta, Wikimedia Commons
On the less expensive side of the scale are flamingos, which cost only $100 to legally hunt in Zimbabwe. The value of this and the other animals to conservationists and other animal lovers comes without a price tag, however. To them, the animals are priceless. Nevertheless, by putting a price on the heads of animals, some national parks in Africa earn money that helps to fuel their operations. The biggest problem is poachers, who receive relatively light sentences for their crimes.
Rodrigues explained, "The only thing a poacher would get if they trapped these animals is a jail sentence if they are caught."
China crushed a pile of ivory reportedly weighing over six tonnes on Monday, in a landmark event aimed at shedding its image as a global hub for the illegal trade in African elephant tusks.
Clouds of dust emerged as masked workers fed tusks into crushing machines in what was described as the first ever public destruction of ivory in China.
The event in the southern city of Dongguan was "the country's latest effort to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness", the official news agency Xinhua said.
Surging demand for ivory in Asia is behind an ever-mounting death toll of African elephants, conservationists say, as authorities have failed to rein in international smuggling networks.
Experts believe that most illegal ivory is headed to China -- where products made from the material have long been seen as status symbols -- with some estimating the country accounts for as much as 70 percent of global demand.
Chinese forestry and customs officials oversaw the destruction, which was shown live by state broadcaster CCTV. It reported that the ivory weighed 6.1 tonnes and had been seized over a period of years.
"With measures like this we can still save elephants from being driven towards extinction," said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of London-based conservation group Save The Elephants.
Some of the crushed ivory powder would be disposed of and some displayed in a museum exhibit, while the rest would be "preserved", state-run China National Radio reported.
The powder can be used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.
China was in March named by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as one of eight nations failing to do enough to tackle the illegal trade in elephant ivory.
CITES banned international ivory trading in 1989, but the environmental group WWF estimates that around 22,000 elephants were hunted for their tusks in 2012, with a greater number projected for the following year. There could be as few as 470,000 left, it says.
Other countries have carried out similar exercises, with the US crushing six tons of ivory in November. The Philippines destroyed five tonnes of tusks in June, and Kenya set fire to a pile weighing the same amount in 2011.