Ivory’s shocking toll: 65 percent of forest elephants killed in 12 years – ‘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’Posted by Jim at Thursday, February 13, 2014
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]
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.