2011: “Worst Year Ever” for Elephants

Organized crime has a new target: Elephants. More than 2,500 elephants were killed by ivory poachers, and Asian organized crime syndicates appear to be behind it, a wildlife trade monitoring network said Thursday. That number is based on a record number of large seizures of elephant tusks. "As most large-scale ivory seizures fail to result in any arrests, I fear the criminals are winning," said Tom Milliken, an elephant and rhino expert for TRAFFIC, the monitoring group. The group couldn't confirm that all of the elephants were killed this year -- some of the tusks seized appeared to be older -- but they said the number of seizures is alarming. There have been 13 large seizures this year, up from six total in 2010. "In 23 years of compiling ivory seizure data, this is the worst year ever for large ivory seizures," Milliken said. "2011 has truly been a horrible year for elephants."

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