African elephants in danger of being wiped out: study

African elephants in danger of being wiped out: study

African savanna elephants’ population has shrunk drastically over the past few years due to poaching, prompting wildlife experts to warn that the species is in danger of being wiped out.

A new study, funded by Microsoft co-founder & philanthropist Paul Allen, showed that savanna elephants’ population in Africa has shrunk nearly 30 per cent between 2007 and 2014, and it continues to decline at a rate of around 8 per cent per annum.

Elephant Ecologist Mike Chase said, “If we can't save the African elephant, what is the hope of conserving the rest of Africa's wildlife? I am hopeful that, with the right tools, research, conservation efforts and political will, we can help conserve elephants for decades to come.”

Dozens of aircrafts were used to conduct an aerial survey covering eighteen African countries. The study, called the Great Elephant Census, estimated that there are now 352,271 savanna elephants in Africa.

Researchers involved in the study also spotted around a dozen carcasses for every one hundred live elephants, which indicated that poaching continues at a high level enough to cause population to drastically decline.

Shocking findings of the study were announced ahead of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, which will take place in Honolulu.

According to a report in AlterNet News by Wayne Pacelle, "The number of elephants in the African savanna is in drastic decline, their population having dwindled by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census, the first-ever pan-African survey of savanna elephants."

This extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive effort, which required the participation of 90 scientists doing on-the-ground work in 18 countries, paints a deeply disturbing picture for the future of this iconic species. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of elephants dropped by a startling 144,000. Continent-wide elephant populations are shrinking by eight percent each year.

Some of the worst declines are in Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania. In certain parts of Cameroon and Zambia, elephant populations could be facing local extirpation. In Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region—on the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba north of Hwange National Park—populations are down by a sickening 74 percent.

A report published in the National Geographic said, “The findings of the Great Elephant Census show clearly that poaching is still decimating elephant herds across Africa. This practice makes no sense on any level – moral, economic or political."

“Elephants are already locally extinct in my own country, Mauritania, and I do not want to see this happen anywhere else – an imminent possibility in Cameroon and Mali, and further down the line in other countries, unless we accelerate action."

“There is reason for hope. Populations in some African nations are declining only slightly or even increasing. And support for tackling the crisis is increasingly backed by a growing public, political and private sector force for change – such as the Wild For Life campaign.

“Across Africa, nations are starting to see that wildlife is worth more alive than dead, and that it can generate revenue, through tourism for example, to fund the education, healthcare and infrastructure that will improve human well-being and drive economic growth." “As depressing as these numbers are, I hope they act as a further spark for action and change. We know how to solve the crisis. The Great Elephant Census tells us we must act, and now.”


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