African Elephant Numbers Plummet 30 Percent, Landmark Survey Finds
An unprecedented census gives a sobering baseline for managing what’s left of Africa’s elephants.
The much anticipated results of the largest ever continent-wide wildlife survey, the Great Elephant Census, will be released tomorrow at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The worrying finding: Africa now has 352,271 savanna elephants left in 93 percent of the species’ range.
The aerial survey covered 18 African countries. In 15 of those, where information on previous populations existed, 144,000 elephants were lost to ivory poaching and habitat destruction in less than a decade.
The current yearly loss—overwhelmingly from poaching—is estimated at 8 percent. That’s about 27,000 elephants slaughtered year after year.
Forest elephants, which live in central and West Africa, were excluded from the census because they’re nearly impossible to spot from the air. But a 2012 ground study