The highly anticipated results of the Great Elephant Census have been released, reconfirming all of our fears about the scale of the poaching crisis, with the savanna elephant population declining by 30% in the past seven years.
The census, funded by Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen, was the largest ever continent-wide survey, and counted 352,271 elephants in 18 countries over three years, representing at least 93% of the elephants in these areas. The results showed that Tanzania and Mozambique together lost 73,000 elephants to poaching in just five years, making them the continent’s hardest hit countries. The census also revealed that northern Cameroon’s elephant population is in immediate danger of extinction, with spotters counting no more than 148 elephants in the region.
The announcements follow the release of two reports in July that conversely appeared to show that the number of elephants being killed for their tusks was slowing down. However, these MIKE (Monitoring of the Illegal Killing of Elephants) and ETIS (Elephant Trade Information System) reports have to be viewed in the context of an Africa with already depleted elephant populations, which may account for the perceived reductions in poaching in some areas. Poaching still remains very high in Central and West Africa, and South Africa's Kruger National Park has recorded a recent spike in poaching.
The news underlines the fact that there can be no complacency in the battle against the illegal ivory trade, and that crucial decisions must be taken at the upcoming CITES* conference. On 22nd September, ahead of the conference, Tusk is organising an international event - "Time for Change" - to raise to call for greater action to stop the poaching and other aspects of the illegal wildlife trade. This can be followed LIVE on Tusk's Facebook site. Click here for more information.
In the meantime, there is still some hope. Kenya has reported a 79% reduction in poaching over the past 3 years, much of it thanks to the unwavering efforts of many of Tusk's partner organisations. Tusk supports the anti-poaching patrols of 450 game guards across 30 community-led initiatives from Mali to Zimbabwe, successfully overcoming the poaching threat in many of these areas. Please support Tusk’s vital anti-poaching efforts by clicking the donate button above.
* CITES = Convention on Trade in Endangered Species
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