For the first time, a leading conservation organization has recognized the savannah elephant and the forest elephant as two distinct species from Africa.
Based on recent assessments, the African savanna elephant, whose population has declined by at least 60% over the past 50 years, has been classified as "endangered". The African forest elephant, whose population has fallen by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, has been classified as "critically endangered". Current estimates suggest that there are around 415,000 elephants left in Africa, for both species
Elephants have long been needed as Africans or Asians. But there are actually two species of African elephant: the savanna elephant is larger, has curved tusks, and roams the open plains of sub-Saharan Africa. The smaller, darker forest elephant, with straight tusks, lives in the equatorial forests of Central and West Africa.
Now, for the first time, scientists have evaluated these two classifications separately, the results are grim. Savannah elephants are endangered and forest elephants are critically endangered, according to an official assessment released today by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its Red List of Threatened Species, the world's most comprehensive inventory of extinction risk.
This high extinction threat status for both species could trigger an increase in poaching incidents, as rarer animal parts of the most at-risk species are more in demand on the black market as well as in areas where the ivory is still legally traded
Although some governments, including the Chinese government, have made significant strides in shutting down their domestic ivory markets, including through control and repression, more needs to be done to dry up demand for ivory. In parts of Africa, the collapse of the tourism sector, following the outbreak of the pandemic, has led to an aggravation of the threat due to the intensification of poaching, facilitated by the loss of income necessary to enforce the law.
Much more than the pressure from the international ivory market, the decline in fruit production poses a new threat to forest elephants who struggle to feed themselves. Rebuilding elephant populations requires protecting their habitat and ecosystem. As well as the continuation of the fight against poaching and ivory trafficking.
We support all initiatives on the ground and all steps in this direction and we have issued various projects and missions in the but to raise awareness of the critical situation of biodiversity and for the conservation of endangered species.
Photo : Alex Vega Lynn @ Kruger National Park - South Africa 2020