A first-ever census conducted in 18 African countries has found that Africa currently has only 352 271 elephants, 30% less than they were nine years ago.
Poaching has largely been blamed for the decrease in the continent’s elephant population, as countries such as China and Vietnam are said to be paying a huge fortune for any piece of ivory that lands on their markets.
The Great Elephant Census (GEC), as the survey is called, tells the tale of a population decimated by almost a decade of savage killings, elephants brutally hacked and left to die, and thousands of elephants carcasses rotting in Africa’s savannahs.
Around 144 000 animals were lost over a seven-year period in 15 African countries, declining at a rate of 8% a year, London-based Guardian newspaper has reported last week. The biggest losses have been recorded in Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique.
“When you think of how many elephants occurred in these areas 10 or 20 years ago, it is incredibly disheartening,” Tanzanian media reports quoted Mike Chase, GEC principal investigator and founder of Elephant Without Borders, as saying.
About 27 000 elephants are being killed each year in Africa, according the US$7million survey, which uses a fleet of small planes for counting.
The project is funded by Microsoft billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen.
However, it is remains unclear why the survey did not count the Namibian elephant population. Namibia and South Africa are said to be among the countries that fiercely oppose the ban on the so-called ‘legal’ domestic trade of ivory.
Here is the list of African countries that still have a few elephants:
Botswana 130 451
Zimbabwe 82 304
Tanzania 42 871
Kenya 25 959
Zambia 21 758
South Africa 17 433
Mozambique 9 605
Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin 8 911
Uganda 4 864
Angola 3 395
DR Congo 1 959
Photo: African elephants, credit: WWF