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Thirty percent African elephants wiped out in 7 years between 2007 and 2014

The scientific report of the GEC findings, published in the open access journal PeerJ revealed that the current rate of species decline is eight percent per year, primarily due to poaching

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A family of African elephants. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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New York, September 1, 2016: Elephant populations in Africans declined by as much as 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, the Result of a pan-African survey of savanna elephants have shown.

The findings of the three-year Great Elephant Census managed by Elephants Without Borders (EWB) confirms substantial declines in elephant numbers over just the last decade.

“The Results of the GEC show the necessity of action to end the African elephants’ downward trajectory by preventing poaching and protecting habitat,” said Michael Chase, EWB Director and the Principle Investigator on the project.

The ambitious project to count all of Africa’s savannah elephants from the air has completed 18 country surveys with two countries still to be completed, organisers said.

South Sudan and the Central African Republic are anticipated to be flown by the end of 2016 depending on safety conditions and data reliability.

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For savannah elephant populations in 15 GEC countries for which repeat counts were available, populations declined by 30 percent, or 144,000 animals, between 2007 and 2014, the investigators said.

The Pan-African survey showed the estimated savannah elephant population to be 352,271 within the 18 countries surveyed to-date, representing at least 93 percent of savannah elephants in these countries.

The researchers reported that 84 percent of the population surveyed was sighted in legally protected areas compared to 16 percent in unprotected areas.

However, large numbers of carcasses were observed in many protected areas indicating that elephants are struggling both within and outside of parks.

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The scientific report of the GEC findings, published in the open access journal PeerJ revealed that the current rate of species decline is eight percent per year, primarily due to poaching.

The team used the most accurate, up-to-date counting and statistical methods to analyse data, accurately determining the number and distribution of the great majority of African savanna elephants and this now provides a baseline on a continental scale for future surveys and trend analyses, that wildlife ecologists will be able to use to coordinate conservation efforts.

Overall, 90 scientists, six non-governmental organization partners, and two advisory partners collaborated in the work. (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    The African elephants are a rare species. Their hunting and poaching should be made illegal with strict punishments across the whole of Africa.

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USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words.

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illegal wildlife trade
Thai Navy officers and forestry officials display seized dead tigers, leopards and pangolins in That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand. VOA

The United States and dozens of other countries have pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and treat it as a “serious and organized crime” following a two-day conference in London that ended Friday.

Trade in endangered wildlife, such as elephant tusks, rhino horns and tiger bones, is worth an estimated $17 billion a year and is pushing hundreds of species to the brink of extinction.

Speaking to heads of state from across the world, Britain’s Prince William, a passionate conservationist, said he recognized that law enforcement resources are already stretched in many countries.

illegal wildlife trade
Britain’s Prince William gestures as he makes speech at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. VOA

“But I am asking you to see the connections, to acknowledge that the steps you take to tackle illegal wildlife crime could make it easier to halt the shipments of guns and drugs passing through your borders,” the prince told delegates.

Worldwide, the illegal wildlife trade is booming.

Illegal ivory trade activity has more than doubled since 2007, while over 1,300 rhino were killed in 2015. Asian tigers have seen a 95 percent decline in population, as their body parts are in demand for Chinese medicines and wine. In the last year, more than 100 wildlife rangers have died trying to tackle poachers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the conference the U.S. will give $90 million to programs that fight illegal wildlife traffickers.

illegal wildlife trade
Seized wild birds are seen inside a cage at a news conference by police officers following a bust on illegal wildlife trade, in Kunming, Yunnan province, China. VOA

“Their criminal acts harm communities, degrade institutions, destabilize our environment and funnel billions of dollars to those who perpetuate evil in the world. These criminals must be and they can be stopped,” Sessions said.

It is not only big mammals at risk.

For example, a critically endangered water frog from the remote Lake Titicaca in Peru has seen its numbers plummet in recent years, as thousands have been trapped and taken to make a juice that some believe has medicinal properties, despite no scientific evidence.

Delegates at the conference applauded progress made, including China’s decision at the beginning of this year to close its domestic ivory market, hailed as a major step in safeguarding the world elephant population.

Aron White of the Britain-based Environmental Investigation Agency says other animals need similar protection.

“This market was both stimulating demand for ivory and also enabling illegal ivory to be laundered through this legal trade,” White told VOA. “But that same issue still exists for big cats. You know, there’s a trade in leopard bone products [for example], large-scale commercial trade.”

Campaigners say existing United Nations Conventions on transnational organized crime offer firepower for tackling the illegal wildlife trade, but they are not being used effectively.

In the closing declaration, conference attendees pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and recognize it as a serious and organized crime.

Also Read: Salman Khan Sentenced to Five Years In Poaching Case, Others Acquitted

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words. (VOA)