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Pachyderm poaching in Africa: interpreting emerging trends and transitions

Crime, Law and Social Change

Published online on



For the past two decades, rhino poaching has made headline news as the South African and global public increasingly endeared themselves to this species, in part due to their precarious status and conservation plight. On the African continent, whilst rhino-poaching pressure has topped out at the pandemic level, another conservation crime, namely elephant poaching, has surreptitiously amplified and annually been spiraling upwards. As rhino populations have dwindled, and amidst this decline and allied loss of poaching opportunities, wildlife poachers have ostensibly diverted their efforts to other more accessible species. This article highlights the auguring southwardly migrating poaching risk to elephants, the extent to which elephants are becoming a surrogate species for rhinos and/or other forms of wildlife in the context of poaching momentum, effort and economics, and the role that crime displacement and passé confidence in reactive intervention paradigms play, as potential drivers, in the continent-wide elephant defaunation.