Elephant dung density and range reduction across the Central African forests. Predictions are shown for (A) 2002 and (B) 2011 for the model with variables: survey year∧, Human Influence Index***, corruption*** and the presence/absence of guards***, and (C) 2002 and (D) 2011 for the model with variables: survey year∧, proximity to road∧, human population density***, corruption*** and the presence/absence of guards*** (P-values are: ‘***’ <0.001 and ‘∧’ <0.1). Increasingly darker shades of green correspond to higher densities, grey represents extremely low elephant density range (the first interval: 0–100 elephant dung piles/km2) and white is non-habitat (80 survey sites outlined in red). Cutpoints are: 0; 100; 250; 500; 1,000; 1,500; 3,000; 5,000; and 7,500 dung piles/km2. Countries 1–5 are: Cameroon; Central African Republic; Republic of Congo; DRC; Gabon. Graphic: Maisels, et al., 2013 / doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059469

By Jeremy Hance
12 February 2014

(mongabay.com) – Forest elephants have suffered unprecedented butchery for their ivory tusks over the past decade, according to new numbers released by conservationists today in London. Sixty-five percent of the world's forest elephants have been slaughtered by poachers over the last dozen years, with poachers killing an astounding nine percent of the population annually. Lesser-known than their savannah cousins, a genetics study in 2010 found that forest elephants are in fact a distinct species, as far removed from savannah elephants as Asian elephants are from mammoths. These findings make the forest elephant crisis even more urgent.

"At least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were lost between 2002-2013 to the tune of at least sixty a day, or one every twenty minutes, day and night," says Fiona Maisels, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who headed the research. "By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the ivory market."

The analysis adds new data from 2012 and 2013 to a landmark study last year, showing that despite some stepped-up conservation efforts poaching continues apace. […]

"The current number and distribution of elephants is mind-boggling when compared to what it should be," said Samantha Strindberg, also with WCS and co-author of the paper. "About 95 percent of the forests of DRC are almost empty of elephants." [more]

Ivory trade's shocking toll: 65% of world's forest elephants killed in 12 years (warning: graphic image)

ABSTRACT: African forest elephants – taxonomically and functionally unique– are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002–2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced.

Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa


  1. TheReverendGreene said...

    Look kids, see that skeleton next to the T-Rex? When I was growing up we called them elephants. We used to have exhibits of living ones, in zoos, but now they only exist in museums.  


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