Forest elephants threatened by poachers

Africa's forest elephants are being severely threatened by ivory poaching, according to a new survey of central African rainforest.

Africa's forest elephants are being severely threatened by ivory poaching, according to a new survey of central African rainforest. The data shows that in contrast to the strong recovery of some savannah elephant populations, forest elephants have fared much worse.

The survey will feed into deliberations by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species in June over whether to allow a limited and regulated sell-off of ivory stockpiles by southern African countries. Countries who oppose the sell-off, led by Kenya, are likely now to argue that the illegal ivory trade is alive and well and that a legal sell-off should not be considered until the impacts of illegal trade are better understood.

"These data are going to wake up a lot of people and open up a lot of peoples' eyes," said Stephen Blake at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, who led the study, "Elephants in the rest of Africa are not well managed [as southern populations] and the black market is alive and well."

Dr Blake estimates that the Democratic Republic of Congo has fewer than 10,000 forest elephants, many fewer than an estimate of 64,000 from a survey conducted in 1989.


James Randerson

The GuardianTramp

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