Monday, 7 March 2016

African elephants 'killed faster than they are being born'

Data released on UN world wildlife day shows overall population is still falling despite a recent reduction in levels of poaching for ivory

Thursday 3 March 2016 08.00 GMT
Last modified on Thursday 3 March 201609.33 GMT

More African elephants are being killed for ivory than are being born, despite poaching levels falling for the fourth year in a row in 2015.

The new data, released on UN world wildlife day on Thursday, shows about 60% of elephant deaths are at the hands of poachers, meaning the overall population is most likely to be falling.

“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival, especially in central and west Africa where high levels of poaching are still evident,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species(Cites), which collects the data. At least 20,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2015.

But Scanlon said there were some encouraging signs, including in parts of eastern Africa, such as in Kenya, where the poaching trend has declined.

“This is showing us all what is possible through a sustained and collective effort with strong political support,” he said. “The momentum generated over the past few years is translating into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most – from the rangers in the field, to police and customs at ports and across illicit markets.”

Elephant poaching peaked in 2011, when it accounted for about 75% of all deaths. Poaching has gradually reduced since then but remains well above sustainable levels. Scanlon said even greater efforts were needed to fully reverse the trend.


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