Wednesday, March 25, 2015

African elephant numbers likely to decline due to continued poaching

A high rate of elephant poaching in parts of Africa was unchanged in 2014 compared to the previous year, meaning that a continued decline in elephant numbers is likely, according to a study released Monday at a conservation meeting in Kasane.

A report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES and which regulates wildlife trade, said poaching rates of elephants in areas that are being monitored still exceed their natural birth rates.Conservationists say tens of thousands of elephants have been killed in Africa in recent years as demand for ivory in Asia, particularly China, increases. Past estimates of Africa’s elephant population have ranged from 420,000 to 650,000.

The poaching situation appears to have deteriorated in Central and West Africa, though there are “encouraging signals” in parts of East Africa where overall poaching levels have declined, said John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES. The study was presented at an international conference on the threat to elephants that was held in the tourist town of Kasane in northern Botswana. A similar meeting was held in 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital.

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