Thursday, August 21, 2014

Study- Africa's Elephants Could Become Extinct in 100 Years

African elephant

A recent study has shown that Africa's elephant population has reached a tipping point in which more animals are being ruthlessly killed each year, surpassing the birth rate. Researchers concluded that an average of approximately 35,000 African elephants have been killed annually since 2010 and warned that if the poaching rate continues, then the elephants could become extinct in 100 years. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It provided a definite assessment of the impact of poaching on the elephants. For example, researchers have discovered that between 2010 and 2013, Africa experienced an average of 7 percent decline in its entire elephant population each year. Since elephant births bolster the population by roughly 5 percent annually, it means that more animals are being killed than born. According to Julian Blanc of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), if the poaching of elephants is continued, the world would see tremendous declines over time. He further added that different African countries are affected differently. For example, Botswana still has healthy growing elephant populations but in other areas like Central Africa, poaching levels are calamitously high resulting in a 60 percent drop in elephant numbers in ten years. Professor George Wittemyer of Colorado State University, the study's lead author, added that poachers target the biggest and oldest members in elephant herds such as dominant breeding males, mothers, and matriarchs. This results in fractured elephant societies and orphaned juveniles.
Ivory stockpiles being destroyed in an attempt to stop the illegal ivory trade.

This news is an explicit reminder that Africa's elephant population has and continues to be in dire jeopardy, due to poaching. Areas like Central Africa have become killing fields for these majestic animals as poachers ruthlessly massacre scores of elephants, contributing not only to the downfall of the region's wildlife but also its tourism industry and socio-economic development. The most brutal and heartbreaking example was seen in Bouba Njida National Park in Cameroon, where 350 elephants were slaughtered by poachers in 2012. Furthermore, the poachers who conducted such carnage included members of militant groups like the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Janjaweed. These factions are infamous for carrying out civil wars in Central Africa that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. In addition to claiming lives of people, members of these organizations turned to poaching in order finance their civil wars. This indicates that in Central Africa and other areas rife with militant activities, both people and wildlife are under constant threat of falling prey into the murderous hands of ruthless and bloodthirsty cutthroats with no regard for animal or human life. It is therefore absolutely essential to take urgent action to further combat the ongoing ivory trade by focusing on the front-line and dealing with all its links. This includes improvising local livelihoods, intensifying enforcement and authorities, targeting militia groups responsible for the continuous massacre of people and elephants, and reducing the demand of ivory in Asia and other parts of the world.

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