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Elephant Poaching Witnessing 'Significant Escalation,' Says Wildlife Charity

A staggering 35,000 elephants were slaughtered in 2011, according to the wildlife and endangered species charity Tusk Trust.

Chief executive of Tusk Trust Charlie Mayhew recently told NBC News that there has been an escalation in elephant poaching due to an increased global demand for ivory, particularly from countries like China and Thailand.

"Last year we believe that as many as 35,000 elephants may have been slaughtered for their ivory," Mayhew told NBC. "What we have witnessed over the last 18 months or two years has been a significant escalation in the poaching of both rhino for rhino horn and elephant for ivory, fueled by a sort of dramatic increase in demand from consumers in the Far East."

The use and trade of elephant ivory has been controversial for decades now, as it has resulted in the sharp decline of elephant populations in various countries across the world. Experts warn that elephants are in danger of being hunted to extinction across the continent of Africa.

Rhino slaughter has also been significant as well and the rare Western Black Rhinoceros, which was native to eastern and central regions in Africa, was declared extinct in 2011.

"South Africa lost 434 rhino last year. This year we know that they've lost more than 170 rhino. That's more than an average of one every 15 hours and that is just South Africa alone."

Tusk Trust was developed in 1990 to protect wild life and endangered species. The organization also works with communities who live alongside wildlife to provide poverty alleviation programs that focus on sustainable development and education.

Tusk Trust is part of the Princes' Charities Forum, which is an initiative started by Prince William and Prince Harry to bring their charitable interests together and develop synergies between the various organizations they support.

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