African elephants living in forests and savannas are increasingly threatened with extinction, according to numbers released on Thursday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
“We must urgently put an end to poaching and ensure that sufficient suitable habitat for both forest and savannah elephants is conserved,” Bruno Oberle, general director at IUCN, said.
The savanna elephant is listed as “endangered”. In 50 years, the population has gone down by at least 60%. The number of forest elephants fell by more than 86% in 31 years. They are listed as “critically endangered”, the highest category before extinction in the wild.
In total, there are only 415,000 African elephants left in the wild. That’s only 4% of the 10 million wild elephants that lived in Africa in 1930.
“These are really sharp declines,” Benson Okita-Ouma from Save the Elephants told AFP. “What this assessment is giving us is an early warning that unless we turn around things, we are likely to (see) these animals go extinct.”
Conservationists called for an urgent end to poaching. Perhaps even more alarming, according to Okita-Ouma, is the ever-increasing destruction of elephant habitats due to expanding land use for agriculture and other activities.
“If we don’t plan our land-use properly, moving forward, then as much as we stop poaching and we stop illegal killing of these animals, there will still be other forms of indirect killings as a result of poor land-use planning,” he said.
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