96 Elephants


96 elephants a day...This is the number of African Elephants that are currently being killed every day for their tusks. 35,000 elephants were killed in 2012! In 1979 there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants, by 1989 there remained only 600,000. In 1989, an international ban on selling ivory was created which decreased its value and stopped the demand . . . but only temporarily. Many of the countries in Africa have stockpiles of ivory from seizures, and some of those countries were given permission to have one-off sales of those stockpiles to primarily Asian countries, which in change created demand and increased value once again. In the last decade elephant numbers have begun to plummet and now there is an estimated 400,000 or fewer left. That’s a 76% decline in the elephant population, and over three-fourths of the Forest Elephants that live in Central Africa. If rates continue at this level many populations of elephants may be nearing extinction in ten years. While Asian elephants do suffer from being poached as well, their biggest conservation concern is habitat fragmentation.

Challenges to Conservation

The tusks or ivory of an elephant is a very desirable material and the only way to obtain the tusks of an elephant is to kill them. Due to a growing middle class in China and ivory being used as a symbol of “status in society”, the demand for ivory is at an all-time high. The estimated cost per 1 kg (2.2 lbs) is $7,300US dollars. If an average female elephant has about 10 kg of ivory, than each elephant is worth $730 dollars, and that’s wholesale. The retail value of 10 kg can be sold for $24,300 dollars! The incentive is paramount. The money that is being generated by wildlife trafficking is a 7-10 billion dollar industry, which ranks fifth globally behind trafficking in drugs, humans, oil, and counterfeiting. Even worse, the trafficking is dominated by well-organized syndicates that operate as transnational criminal networks and often participate in other illegal activities, including trafficking in narcotics and weapons, and some have links with terrorist networks. Shockingly, besides Asian markets, the United States is in the top ten nations to import ivory. Much of this trade is legal under a confusing set of U.S. regulations that perpetuates black market sales of illegal ivory. Simply put, pre-ban ivory or “legacy” ivory is still legal to sell, but once the illegal ivory gets into these countries, the ivory is almost impossible to differentiate. Although permits are required for proof of the ivory being legal, they are easy to manipulate and fake. New York is the number one market, with San Francisco being the second biggest market in the U.S.

Elephants are important!

Conservation Approaches

Oakland Zoo has always been on the forefront of supporting elephant conservation awareness as well as advocacy for elephants in captivity, promoting natural history and behaviors through proper management. Amboseli Trust for Elephants, led by world-renowned researcher Cynthia Moss, have been one of our partners for eighteen years and through our annual Celebrating Elephants Day and Evening Lecture we have been able to raise over 250,000 dollars over the years. This money goes straight to the project, helping support their research as well as protect the elephants in the park. 

We are proud to announce a partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society in their “96 Elephants” campaign. 96 elephants brings together world citizens, partners, thought leaders, and change makers to leverage collective influence to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. Overall the campaign will focus on securing effective U.S. moratorium laws; bolstering elephant protection with additional funding; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.

Moratoria and Public Engagement

96 Elephants will:

Field Conservation

96 Elephants will:

Oakland Zoo Takes Action...

Financial support

Stopping the killing of elephants is critical but cannot be done without more financial support from helping spread the word about the campaign, fighting for stronger legislations, and protecting the elephants and guards in the field!

Public Awareness

Educating the public is critical in creating the connection between ivory consumption and elephant poaching. Media promotion through live news, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to promote the campaign is crucial in spreading the word about the crisis


Oakland Zoo will make every effort to support and promote online petitions and letter writing campaigns. As a coalition member to AB 96, which was passed in October 2015, we will aid in other similar state laws as needed.

...And So Can You!