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100,000 Elephants Killed: Researchers Quantify Poaching Death Toll

Poachers killed an estimated 100,000 elephants across Africa between 2010 and 2012, a huge spike in the continent's death rate of the world's largest mammals because of an increased demand for ivory in China and other Asian nations, a study published Monday found. The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to scientifically quantify the number of deaths across the continent byt measuring deaths in one closely monitored park in Kenya and using other published data to extrapolate fatality tolls across the continent.

The study found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent a decade ago to roughly 65 percent of all elephant deaths today, which unchecked would lead to extinction. China's rising middle class and the demand for ivory in that country of 1.3 billion people is driving the black market price of ivory up, leading to more impoverished people in Africa "willing to take the criminal risk on and kill elephants. The causation in my mind is clear," said the study's lead author, George Wittemyer of Colorado State University.

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— The Associated Press