Poaching Drives Huge 80% Decline In Elephant Population In Gabon

Posted: Feb 21 2017, 1:51am CST | by , Updated: Feb 21 2017, 2:15am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Poaching Drives Huge 80% Decline in Elephant Population in Gabon
A small group of forest elephants in Gabon's Minkébé National Park. Credit: John Poulsen, Duke University

More than 25,000 elephants have been killed in one of Central Africa's largest and most important preserves in the last decade

Poaching is driving a massive decline in the population of African elephant. According to a new research, forest elephant population in African country Gabon has dropped by more than 80 percent in just a decade. Around 25,000 elephants are killed between 2004 and 2014, which makes it the highest percentage of loss in a single decade.

Gabon is one pf the largest and most important natural reserves for Central African elephants with nearly half of Central Africa's total forest elephants thought to live in Gabon. But even this key preserve is unable to protect elephants from poachers who primarily come from bordering country of Cameroon.

“Our research suggests that more than 25,000 elephants in Gabon's Minkébé National Park may have been killed for their ivory between 2004 and 2014," said John Poulsen, professor of tropical ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"With nearly half of Central Africa's estimated 100,000 forest elephants thought to live in Gabon, the loss of 25,000 elephants from this key sanctuary is a considerable setback for the preservation of the species.”

To determine the extent of the population loss in the area, researchers have compared data from two large-scale surveys of elephant dung in Minkébé National Park over the past 10 years. The biggest drops in numbers were observed in central and northern parts of the park. These parts are located near Gabon-Cameroon boarder.

“Based on changes in the abundance and geographic distribution of the dung, we identified two fronts of poaching pressure," said Poulsen.

"Elephant numbers in the south of the park, which is 58 kilometers from the nearest major Gabonese road, have been somewhat reduced. By comparison, the central and northern parts of the park—which, at one point, are just 6.1 kilometers from Cameroon's national road—have been emptied."

Researchers have long thought that elephants are flourishing in relatively well-protected parks in southern Africa, but it has been proven wrong by the lastest study. Elephants have been brutally slaughtered in the biggest reserve of central Africa.

The battle to protect elephants from this ever-increasing slaughter is being lost to a more aggressive demand for the animals’ ivory. Elephant ivory is highly valuable and has been traded from Africa to other parts of the world for centuries. There will a massive decline in poaching if a complete ban is imposed on ivory trade.

“We can no longer assume that apparently large and remote protected areas will conserve species--poachers will go anywhere that a profit can be made,” said Poulsen.

“With less than 100,000 elephants across all of Central Africa, the subspecies is in danger of extinction if governments and conservation agencies do not act fast.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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