The report shows that African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago, to 400,000. It adds that the decline is of concern because even in well-established and protected elephant populations, the annual losses to illegal killing and other mortalities are not being compensated by birth rates.
Poaching continues to threaten
the long-term survival of the African elephant, according to an updated
assessment by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Illegal killing is the chief
cause of death for the giants, according to the Monitoring of Illegal Killing
of Elephants (MIKE) programme. Evidence reveals that the Proportion of
Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) levels peaked in 2011 when an alarming 10 per
cent of African elephants were poached, before steadily declining through 2017.
That level has remained relatively unchanged throughout 2018.
The report shows that African
elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago, to
400,000. It adds that the decline is of concern because even in
well-established and protected elephant populations, the annual losses to
illegal killing and other mortalities are not being compensated by birth rates.
“Illegal killing of African
elephants for ivory remains a significant threat to elephant populations in
most of the range States”, said CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero. “At the
same time, the human population of Africa has grown tenfold, from 125 million
to 1,225 million, creating competition for land with elephants”.
Many African elephant populations
are small and fragmented and not well-protected, making them even more
vulnerable to poaching. As PIKE levels remain above 0.5 in Africa, the number
of elephants in some countries continues to decline.
While international trade in
elephant ivory has been banned by CITES since 1990, opinions differ between
countries about whether it should continue or not.
The African elephant and the
debate over the ivory trade will be a major item on the agenda of the next
triennial CITES Conference of the Parties, originally planned for May in
Colombo, Sri Lanka, but now to be rescheduled for a later date.
“We must continue to reduce
poaching and illegal trade in ivory and find solutions to ensure the
coexistence of elephants with local people”, stressed Higuero.
He added that the international
community should further expand its work with the African range States to find
solutions that work both for the elephants and for local communities.