Poached Toward Extinction?

Tens of thousands of African elephants have been illegally killed in the last four years, a report shows.

By | August 20, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, IKIWANERThe illegal trade of elephant tusks out of Africa could one day lead to the animals’ ultimate demise, Colorado State University’s George Wittemyer and his colleagues warned this week (August 19) in PNAS. Poaching of tens of thousands of African elephants during the last four years has sped up the global decline of the species, the team noted in its analysis of carcass data as a measure of illegal killing.

“We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent,” Wittemyer told BBC News. However, added study coauthor Julian Blanc, “different areas are affected differently.”

“There are still healthy growing populations in parts of Africa, Botswana for example. But in other places the poaching levels are devastatingly high, and that is particularly the case in Central Africa,” Blanc told the BBC.

The researchers began by studying a wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to distinguish animal deaths by natural versus illegal causes. They then extrapolated their field census of carcasses to estimate illegal killing of elephants across the continent. In 2011 alone, the researcher found, around 40,000 elephants were illegally killed.

“This is probably the most important publication for elephant conservation in the last 10 years and one that we had all waited for with bated breath,” the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Fiona Maisels, who was not involved in the work, told Nature. “[The] proportion of elephants estimated to have been lost annually is highly cautious,” she added, “but still shockingly high.”

Such desperate times call for desperate measures, John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, told the BBC. “In terms of concrete actions, we need to move to focus on the front-line and tackle all links in the illegal ivory trade chain—improve local livelihoods (for those living with elephants), strengthen enforcement and governance and reduce demand for illegal ivory.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: IA


Posts: 1

August 20, 2014

Actually, they might try looking at the chinese.

Popular Now

  1. A Newly Identified Species Represents Its Own Eukaryotic Lineage
  2. Telomere Length and Childhood Stress Don’t Always Correlate
  3. Optogenetic Therapies Move Closer to Clinical Use
  4. Research Links Gut Health to Neurodegeneration
    The Nutshell Research Links Gut Health to Neurodegeneration

    Rodent studies presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week tie pathologies in the gastrointestinal tract or microbiome composition with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.