Environmental organizations are raising the alarm: African elephants are on the verge of extinction. It’s not just the hunters to blame.
Tourists go on safari because of elephants. Admiring the great giants of Africa in the wilderness is the dream of many. But impressive animals are more at risk than ever before.
The elephants’ condition has deteriorated since the last assessment in 2008. Now, according to the Nature Conservancy,World Conservation Union»Also different risks for different types.
Hunting and habitat scarcity
While savannah elephants are now seen as “endangered”, forest elephants are “extremely vulnerable”. This is a pre-extinction stage in the wild.
The reasons for this are similar for both types of elephants: habitat loss and hunting. For decades, African countries have been trying to control elephant poaching.
But the greed for ivory took its toll again and again: between 2008 and 2011 alone, about 100,000 elephants fell victim to hunting.
Particularly Endangered: Jungle Elephants
Especially for forest elephants, the habitat is dwindling due to deforestation of primitive forests in West Africa. It’s also especially popular because of the harder ivory, says Ben Okita. He is an elephant researcher in Nairobi (Kenya) with the organization “Save the elephants».
Currently, there are still 400,000 elephants in Africa: the number of savannah elephants has decreased by half in the past 30 years, which is the number of elephants living in forests by as much as 80 percent.
Forest elephants later became sexually mature
Another flaw in the jungle elephant’s struggle for survival, Okita says, is its fertility. Jungle elephants mature sexually at a later time, thus giving birth only to their offspring at a later time.
However, the elephant researcher has hope. Because in various smaller areas in southern African countries and in countries like Gabon, Congo, Kenya and Rwanda, the elephant population has stabilized.
There is better protection and stricter legislation out there. But generally in Africa, you have to protect the landscape better from use, says elephant researcher Okita. Only then is there a real chance that the elephants will not become extinct.
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