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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs