Thursday, 2 November 2017

Forest elephants down two thirds in eight years

Wildlife censuses carried out in four Central African countries have revealed that forest elephant populations have declined by approximately 66% over eight years in an area covering almost 6 million hectares. These declines are attributed to the illegal killing of elephants for their ivory. However, there are indications that lower levels of poaching have occurred within protected areas, underscoring the role of protected areas as safe refuge for wildlife.

WWF, in collaboration with the respective country ministries in charge of wildlife and various partners, conducted the censuses between 2014 and 2016. The inventories were carried out in key protected areas (representing 20% of the survey area) and surrounding zones (logging concessions, hunting areas and other land use types) in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Gabon. The censuses focused on forest elephants, great apes (chimpanzees and gorillas) and additional data were collected on levels of human activities.

Published in a WWF Central Africa Biomonitoring report, the results indicate an estimated 9,500 forest elephants and 59,000 great apes (weaned, independent individuals) across the survey area. The studies revealed a 66% decline in elephant population between 2008 and 2016 across the landscapes but indicate stable populations of great apes. The figures for elephants are particularly alarming in the Cameroon segment of Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TRIDOM) transboundary conservation landscape where their numbers have declined by more than 70% in less than a decade.