It seems that African forest elephants are at a risk due to slow birth rates and hunting by poachers. This makes them a member of the endangered species list.
African forest elephants tend to have very slow birth rates. This coupled with the fact that are under threat from poachers, who are after their ivory tusks, makes the whole scenario one where they are headed for extinction.
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To stem this tide, the conservationists are doing all that lies in their power. These animals breed at a fairly late stage and have long intervals between the birthing of calves.
Thus what this means is that it could take years and years for this species to recover from the blows that have been dealt them by poachers and hunters.
The organization known as Save the Elephants has had its chairman say that none of them realized that this species was so sensitive. The whole setup of this species is one of slowness.
Not only do the forest elephants grow slowly but they increase slowly as a population as well. The hunt for these elephants is all about the ivory trade and places a larger burden on them than they could bear.
African forest elephants live in the thick luxuriant forests of Central Africa. They are a smaller species than savannah elephants. Poaching has become a scourge for this species.
The population of this elephant dipped by 65% between 2002 and 2013. Their demography remains a mystery until now, according to BBC.
The study managed to look into the setup of 1000 such elephants in the Dzanga Forest in the Central African Republic. The reproduction rates of these elephants were noted down. The females reach maturity at a relatively late age.
While savannah elephants begin breeding at the age of 12, the forest elephants do the same at 23 years of age. Forest elephants produce a calf every five or six years.
Savannah elephants give birth every three or four years. Thus it is clear that the forest elephants take longer to recover from poaching. It would take almost a century for the Dzanga elephants to regain the population levels they enjoyed prior to 2002.
Even the complete eradication of poaching would still mean that decades would have to elapse before the elephants recovered from the current traumas they are suffering from.
The risk of extinction is very real. Therefore steps have to be taken for the protection and conservation of the dwindling African forest elephant population.
This study is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.