Wednesday, 28 September 2016

African elephant population shrinks due to poaching

Africa’s elephant population fell around 20
percent between 2006 and 2015 because of a
surge in ivory poaching, the International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said in a
report on Sunday.

Switzerland-based IUCN is regarded as the
most authoritative source on wild fauna
populations and the report’s release at a U.N.
conference on the global wildlife trade will lend
a sense of urgency as some countries seek to
keep the global ivory trade shut while others
want to reopen it.
“This is yet another set of data clearly
indicating that governments must take all
necessary actions to address the crisis,” said
Susan Lieberman, head of international policy
for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The IUCN, which drew on a range of estimates
and census data, said it now had a fairly
accurate count of 415,000 elephants in Africa
in the areas where extensive surveys could be
taken, down from over 500,000 in 2006.
There are a number of regions where
systematic surveys could not be taken and so
it is difficult to say what is happening to
elephants in such places. These include South
Sudan, Liberia and savannah areas of Central
African Republic.
Losses in some countries have been
staggering. Tanzania, which relies heavily on
wildlife tourism, saw a 60 percent decline in its
elephant population.
“The surge in poaching for ivory that began
approximately a decade ago – the worst that
Africa has experienced since the 1970s and
1980s – has been the main driver of the
decline,” the IUCN said.
Elephant poaching has risen to meet red-hot
demand among fast-growing consumer markets
in Asian economies such as China’s, where
ivory is a coveted commodity used in carving
and ornamental accessories.

The IUCN noted that southern populations in
“Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are
stable or increasing, and there is evidence of
elephant range expansion in Botswana.”
But poachers are also training their guns on
southern Africa with big declines noted in
Mozambique, it said.
Namibia and Zimbabwe have submitted
proposals to the U.N.’s Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES), which is meeting in Johannesburg,
seeking permission to lift a global ban on the
ivory trade so they can sell stockpiles.
This is opposed by other African nations such
as Kenya which fear that illicit ivory can be
laundered with clean supplies and that it could
stimulate demand for a commodity which has
one main source – a dead elephant.