New figures reveal poaching for the illegal ivory trade could wipe out a fifth of Africa’s Elephants over next decade

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 2, 2013

News release: “As delegates gather to discuss the plight of the African Elephant at a summit convened by the Government of Botswana and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) new analyses released today find that if poaching rates are sustained at current levels, Africa is likely to lose a fifth of its elephants in the next ten years. The latest analysis of poaching data estimates that in 2012 some 15,000 elephants were illegally killed at 42 sites across 27 African countries participating in Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), a programme of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), with funding from the European Union.   According to MIKE analysis, this amounts to an estimated 22,000 elephants illegally killed continent-wide in 2012, a slight reduction on the estimated 25,000 elephants poached in 2011. “With an estimated 22,000 African Elephants illegally killed in 2012, we continue to face a critical situation. Current elephant poaching in Africa remains far too high, and could soon lead to local extinctions if the present killing rates continue. The situation is particularly acute in Central Africa—where the estimated poaching rate is twice the continental average,” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General. The IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group estimates the African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) population is around 500,000. Elephants in Central Africa are bearing the brunt of the poaching, although high-poaching levels in all sub-regions mean that even the large elephant populations in Southern and Eastern Africa are at risk unless the trend is reversed. Poverty and weak governance in elephant range States, together with rising demand for illegal ivory in consuming nations, are believed to be the key factors behind the increase in elephant poaching in recent years.”

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