Tanzania’s elephants are disappearing at an astonishing rate, and the culprit appears to be obvious.

For years, environmental organizations have documented the country’s growing role in organized, illegal elephant poaching, which largely feeds China’s voracious appetite for ivory.

Tanzania is now the largest source of seized ivory on the continent of Africa. And because of that, its elephants are in peril.

This week, the Tanzanian government announced that the country’s elephant population had collapsed from just under 110,000 in 2009 to 43,330 today. Taking into account normal population renewal, that is a decline of more than 60 percent in five years — a dramatic and and disheartening statistic.

“How do you end up with tens of thousands of elephant carcasses in the field and no one says anything?” said Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino program coordinator for TRAFFIC, an international organization that monitors the trade of wild animals and plants.