News / Africa

    Ivory Poaching Decimates Forest Elephant Population

    FILE - A mother and baby elephant forage in the rain forest in Lope Reserve, Gabon, July 4, 2001. Over 30 years the population of forest elephants has dropped from a million to 100,000.
    FILE - A mother and baby elephant forage in the rain forest in Lope Reserve, Gabon, July 4, 2001. Over 30 years the population of forest elephants has dropped from a million to 100,000.
    VOA News
    The worldwide demand for ivory is playing a key role in the dramatic decline of the African forest elephant population, according to a new study released March 5.

    Between 2002 and 2011, 62 percent of the population of forest elephants disappeared. Furthermore, the elephants lost 30 percent of their geographical range, leaving the population at only 10 percent of its potential size and occupying less than 25 percent of its potential range.

    “Saving the species requires a coordinated global effort in the countries where elephants occur – all along the ivory smuggling routes, and at the final destination in the Far East. We don’t have much time before elephants are gone,” said Fiona Maisels of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and a lead author of the study.

    Just 30 years ago, the population of African forest elephants was roughly a million, but the study estimates the current population to be around 100,000, spread mostly across Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The study, which was published by the journal Plos One, puts much of the blame for the decline on illegal poaching for ivory, which is driven largely by high demand in China. The study added that increased human populations, absence of law enforcement and poor governance aggravate the problem.

    The impact of such a decline in forest elephants can have wider effects, according to the study. For example, the elephants play a key role in maintaining the health and diversity of the forests of central Africa. The elephants move “great quantities of large seeds many kilometers from the parent tree,” for example. The study also said the elephants create forest clearings, which are important for various African forest fauna.

    The trade in elephant ivory was mostly outlawed in a 1989 treaty, but illegal killing of elephants has continued.  Much of the poaching is the work of organized crime syndicates.

    Forest elephants are not the only targets. Kenyan wildlife officials said poaching resulted in the deaths of 384 elephants in 2012.  In South Africa, a record 668 rhinos were slaughtered last year, as poachers also take advantage of Asia’s demand for rhino horn.

    Earlier this year, researchers announced that poachers may have killed as many as two-thirds of the elephants in Gabon's Minkebe National Park over the past eight years. The Gabonese government says the park is the largest elephant sanctuary in the Congo Basin. Gabon is estimated to host more than half of Africa's 40,000 forest elephants.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Vic from: England
    March 07, 2013 4:34 PM
    When will the people of this world who buy animal parts ever understand the pain misery and carnage that they are causing.or don't they care if there is a god ,how can he let these animals suffer this pain...

    by: R.Pacheco from: Canada
    March 05, 2013 6:25 PM
    I left Kenya 45 years ago.It is so frustrating to learn that poaching is still rampart when the authorities know the middlemen. Why can't the Customs have a visual inspection of containers bound for Hong Kong and the far East?

    by: Mike from: Florida, USA
    March 05, 2013 5:07 PM
    It's the governments of these countries that spur on the degradation of their own wildlife. For a payoff, they allow the Chinese to build roads and infrastructure while the Chinese fleece their country for pennies on the dollar. It's all about greed, no thought at all about the future. When the wildlife is gone, no one from the western world ($$$) will want to visit these hellholes

    by: DJ from: Georgia
    March 05, 2013 3:40 PM
    The word "decimate" means to reduce by one tenth. You clearly explain that 62% of the forest elephants have disappeared. That is way more than 10%. Don't under-sell the problem by using the wrong words in your title.

    by: matt from: MN
    March 05, 2013 3:20 PM
    Decimate means to remove 1 in 10 Deci as in decimal. Deci means 10ths. Here is a link to Websters http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decimate

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora