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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora