The WCS says throughout Africa, elephant numbers have plummeted by 76 percent since 1980 largely due to the demand for ivory. Poachers slaughtered an estimated 35,000 elephants in 2012 alone.
Much of the demand for ivory comes from countries in Asia such as China, where education campaigns have been underway to teach possible ivory purchasers about how the material was obtained. Ivory is still a prestige material in China, where new affluence continues to drive purchases.
VIDEO: Elephants Show Cooperation
The WCS hopes that their campaign will help to secure effective U.S. moratorium laws, bolster elephant protection with additional funding, and add to the worldwide education efforts that inform the public about the link between ivory purchases and elephant poaching.
"The elephant poaching crisis in Africa is the most urgent threat to biodiversity on the continent today," James Deutsch, WCS executive director for Africa programs, told Discovery News. "Raising awareness of the issue is vital to encourage countries around the world to end domestic and international ivory sales."