Friday, 29 July 2016

Elephant killings in Africa 'stabilise' but threat continues

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

28 July 2016 

The rapid growth in the illegal killing of African elephants seen since 2006 seems to have stabilised and may be decreasing.

Two new reports indicate that across the continent, the numbers of elephants being killed for ivory has slowed.

But the picture is mixed as the slaughter in Central and West Africa shows no sign of moderating.

Some experts believe that the decline in deaths could be down to fewer elephants being alive to poach.
Numbers high, trend down

The BBC investigated the war on elephants earlier this year and how it is fuelled by demand for ivory from Asia.

Now there is new data on the sources of the illegal killings from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, better known as Cites.

They run two important elephant monitoring records that are seen as reliable indicators of what's happening on the ground.

A few months ago, the Mike programme (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) showed that number of deaths, which started to grow in 2006, peaked in 2011.

Even though the trend is moving in the right direction, there were still over 14,000 elephants killed in the period from 2003-2015.

The BBC also investigated the war on elephants this year and how it is fuelled by demand for ivory from Asia.

New data has also been published for the ETIS programme (Elephant Trade Information System).

This shows that while trading in illegal ivory reached its highest levels in 2012 and 2013, it had levelled off by 2014.

But while there are some positives in the overall picture for Africa, the regional differences are stark. Countries continue to destroy ivory stockpiles, like this burning in Kenya

Southern Africa is the area where poaching levels have remained consistently the lowest. It remains the only sub-region that has not seen illegal killings exceed natural deaths since monitoring began.

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