Poaching for ivory is the biggest threat to elephants
According to the Great Elephant Census, which was published in August 2016, the African Savanna Elephant are now down to a total number of 352,271 individuals, remaining in 18 African countries. That represents a loss of 30% of the population in just seven years (calculated between 2007-2014). The current rate of decline is 8% per year, primarily due to the poaching crises that have increased severely during the last decade.
LOSS OF ELEPHANTS IN ONLY 7 YEARS
AFRICAN ELEPHANTS ARE ILLEGALLY KILLED EVERY YEAR
DECREASE OF THE ELEPHANT POPULATION EVERY YEAR
Poaching for ivory is the biggest threat to African Elephants with about 20 000 animals being illegally killed every year, mainly for the value of their tusks. The ivory is largely smuggled to Asia where it is carved into exclusive ornamental objects that are in high demand to be used as status symbols.
The African Elephant is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) with populations in Southern Africa still relatively stable, while those in Central Africa are considered Endangered.
The Asian Elephant is classified by the IUCN as Endangered, with certain subspecies rated as Critically Endangered; for example, the Sumatran elephant which has lost 69% of its habitat in just a single generation.
Other threats to Elephants include:
- habitat destruction
Human population growth with a competition for space results in conflicts between humans and elephants, often resulting in “revenge killings”. Another threat peculiar to Asian Elephants is the trafficking of live animals where elephants are in demand, particularly in the forestry industry as well as work within the tourism industry. To meet the demand, particularly for young animals, elephants are seized from the wild in Myanmar and smuggled across the border into mainly Thailand.