Wednesday 17 July 2019

Humans 'must be better neighbours' to save elephants

JULY 8, 2019
Habitat loss as a result of a human population boom in Africa could threaten the very existence of elephants there, according to a new study.
African elephants face a range of threats in the 21st century. Poaching for their ivory tusks, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and climate change have all contributed to their numbers falling by 60 percent since 1970. Given the limited resources that are available for conservation, it is crucial to identify and prioritise the most significant and immediate threats.
The new study, published today in the journal Conservation Science and Practice, compared the impacts of climate change and habitat loss on elephants inhabiting the Amboseli ecosystem in southern Kenya.
Scientists from the University of Reading, in collaboration with colleagues at the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, simulated how food resources would be affected under several habitat loss and climate change scenarios to predict their impact on elephant numbers by the end of the century. They concluded that habitat loss was the greatest threat to Amboseli elephants in this area, and that humans can play a key role in limiting this threat.
Vicky Boult, from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading and lead author of the study, said: "More greenhouse gas emissions may bring more rainfall to this part of Africa, which would actually increase the food available to elephants. Habitat loss however, will reduce the area, and thus the food. This makes habitat loss the most immediate threat to Amboseli elephants.

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