Africa’s elephant population has declined by 110 000 in the last 10 years, mainly due to poaching, according to a new report presented by African Elephant Specialist Group at CoP17.
Africa now has only 415 000 elephants, based on population estimates from a wide range of sources – including data from the pan-African survey on savanna elephants by the Great Elephant Census.
Eastern Africa has experienced an almost 50% reduction in elephant populations, largely attributed to drastic losses in northern Mozambique and Tanzania’s elephant populations, while Central Africa’s forest elephant population has been very badly affected by poaching for ivory since the 1990s. West Africa’s elephant populations are now mostly small, fragmented and isolated with a staggering 12 populations reported as lost since 2006.
The report noted that, while poaching had not had the same impact in Southern Africa as in other areas, the region was now also facing the emergence of a growing poaching threat. Poaching hotspots have been observed in northern Zimbabwe and southern Angola, which has been the hardest hit in the region. The latter country had an entire elephant population lost in one area.
“It is clear from these recent reports that we are in the midst of an Africa-wide poaching crisis that is decimating its elephants,” says Keith Lindsay, an ecologist with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. “Only a total international ban and a closure of domestic markets will put an end to the poaching crisis.”
A total of 183 countries has gathered in Johannesburg to deliberate on the fate of Africa’s elephants.
“We hope that the world will support the proposal put forward at the conference by 29 African countries, known as the African Elephant Coalition, which calls for a global ban on all ivory sales,” says Azizou El Hadj Issa, Chairman of the Council of Elders for the AEC.