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5 Facts About Elephant Populations in Africa

5 Facts About Elephant Populations in Africa

Seeing a herd of elephants in the wild is a unique and beautiful experience.

Words and images by Ann Gadd.

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Sadly, if we don’t work hard to ensure their survival, it may be an experience our children will not have. Rather than view certain elephants as belonging specifically to a particular country, they need to be protected by countries as a unified whole. Here is information released in an article entitled: The shared nature of Africa’s elephants*

  1. 76% of Africa’s elephants are in transboundary populations, meaning that they are able to move freely (relatively speaking) across countries to gain access to water and food.
  2. All international commercial trade in elephants’ bodies or body parts has been banned since 1989. However, four countries – Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – have been given less stringent rulings, meaning that they can trade in ivory, provided it is regulated. This has allowed stockpiles of ivory to be legally sold to China and Japan.
  3. The elephant migrations between countries, means that they are subject to two different rulings depending on which country they are in.
  4. Between 20-30,000 elephants are killed annually for the illegal sales of ivory. This is the biggest threat to the worldwide population.
  5. The Great Elephant Census (GEC; Chase et al., 2016) and in the African Elephant Status Report of 2016 (AESR 2016) produced by the IUCN, between 2007 and 2014, Africa’s savanna elephant numbers plummeted by at least 30%. Forest elephant populations declined by over 60% between 2002 and 2011 (Maisels et al., 2013) and in some regions, poaching has driven their decline to up to 80%.

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*Reference:

Lindsay, K., Chase, M., Landen, K. & Nowak, K. (2017) The shared nature of Africa’s elephants. Biological Conservation, 215: 260-267.

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