African elephants face growing risk of extinction over poaching, habitat loss
African elephants living in forests and savannas are increasingly threatened with extinction, the Red List of species in trouble showed on Thursday, as conservationists called for an urgent end to poaching.
The new assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature underscore the persistent pressures faced by the two species of elephants in Africa due to poaching for ivory and human encroachment.
"We must urgently put an end to poaching and ensure that sufficient suitable habitat for both forest and savannah elephants is conserved," said Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General.
The IUCN cited data showing that the populations of Africa's savanna elephants found in a variety of habitats had decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years while the number of forest elephants found mostly in Central Africa had fallen by 86% over 31 years.
Africa currently has 415,000 elephants, counting the forest and savanna elephants together, according to the IUCN.
Despite the overall decline, some populations of forest elephants were rebounding due to successful conservation measures such as those taken by Gabon and Republic of Congo.
In Southern Africa's Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, savanna elephant numbers were also stable or growing, IUCN said.
Criminal networks working with corrupt officials are a significant problem in central and western Africa, Rudi van Aarde of the University of Pretoria’s zoology department. told The Associated Press.