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The carcass of an Asian elephant was discovered last week in the forests of Xishuangbanna, an autonomous prefecture in the south of Yunnan province. The elephant had been beheaded and its tusks stolen, according to NetEase.
In China, Asian elephants can only survive in the prefectures of Xishuangbanna, Simao and Licang of southern Yunnan. Due in part to rapidly growing human populations, however, they are threatened by extinction in the wild. Currently, between 25,600 and 32,750 of such animals live in the wild in total, WWF estimates.
The Asian elephant is generally smaller than the African elephant, with the average bull weighing around 5.4 tons. Poaching is aimed exclusively at the males, as only male Asian elephants have tusks.
While the killing of Asian elephants for ivory remains a serious problem in China, most illegal ivory moving across the country tends to come from African sources.
A New York Times article from 2012 grimly explained that Africa’s elephants are “being slaughtered at the highest rate in two decades,” creating a “trail of blood” from Africa to “Chinese showrooms and private collections.”