The Great Elephant Census with a fund of $7 million, conducted over a time period of three years has reported that there has been a population decrease in the African Elephant populations by almost a third between 2007 and 2014. The Census effectively took a count of every Savannah elephant in 18 countries all over Africa. The Savannah elephants in these 18 countries account for 93% of the total population. The Census concludes on a very sobering note stating the decline in the population of African elephants by an alarming number of 144,000 within the seven years studied.
Although the world over there are major initiatives and talks on wildlife conservation, we have not succeeded much if we have failed to protect the world’s largest land mammal. The results of the study were published in PeerJ journal. The survey was funded partly by American philanthropist, Paul Allen and was a collaborative effort by the elephant conservation group based in Botswana called Elephants Without Borders and other government and non-government groups in the 18 countries involved.
Before the study even though each country was responsible for keeping a check on their elephant populations, the data was not standardized. Each followed different methods and different frequencies. The Great Elephant Census team followed elephants in an aircraft and took efficient measures to segregate data and to avoid counting the same elephants twice as the elephants are always on the move. Earlier elephant population estimates ranged from 400,000 to 630,000 but the Census reported there are just 352,271 elephants. According to NPR reports such great decline in the elephant population has been caused by illegal poaching for elephant tusks sold on the Chinese market.
Governments have made their best efforts to prevent illegal hunting of elephants and tried to disrupt the ivory market. In April the world awed at the recent Kenyan act of burning tusks of almost 7000 elephants. In Kenya, the public ivory burning events have been witnessed in earlier years too. The recent study will greatly contribute to the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) an international body that regulates trade of threatened animals.
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