Great Elephant Census: African elephant population declined by 144,000 animals in only seven years

Great Elephant Census: African elephant population declined by 144,000 animals in only seven years

According to a $7 million, comprehensive census of African elephants, the elephant population has dropped by roughly a third between 2007 and 2014.

Performed over three years, the Great Elephant Census was conducted to efficiently count every savanna elephant in 18 nations in Africa, accounting for 93% the savanna elephants in the countries. The census found that the population dropped by 144,000 animals in only seven years. The census results have been published in the journal PeerJ.

The project’s main scientist Mike Chase, founder of an elephant conservation group based in Botswana known as Elephants Without Borders, said that in case the world's biggest land mammal can’t get protection then the forecast for wildlife conservation is miserable.

The survey was conducted using huge resources. It was financially supported by an American philanthropist, Paul Allen partially, and performed in alliance between Elephants Without Borders and government and non-government groups in the 18 surveyed nations.

Until now, the individual countries have been accountable for their own elephant populations counting due to which the data from previous years wasn’t standardized. Every government has its own way of counting animals at distinct frequencies, with the help of different methods. This scenario has seen a change due to the Great Elephant Census, which has provided a standardized baseline of the savanna population throughout 18 countries.

The researchers covered huge swaths of land using small aircraft, and recorded themselves counting and capturing the pictures of the elephants they came across. Technical advisers carefully checked the data to ensure no elephant was recorded twice, an issue because of the animals’ movement.

Previous estimations of the African elephant population ranged from roughly 400,000 to more than 630,000, and there was lot of disparity in the numbers.



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