By Lee Rannals
New data shows just how gruesome the battle of forest elephants and poachers has been in Central Africa.
The shocking statistics show that between 2002 and 2013, 65 percent of forest elephants in Central Africa were killed for their ivory. The data reveals that 9 percent of these elephants are being slaughtered each year.
In 2013, a report published in PLOS ONE showed a decline of 62 percent in a 9-year span, which is less than 10 percent of its potential size. This report also found that the elephants occupy just a quarter of the forests they once roamed.
The latest intel released at the United for Wildlife symposium in London on Wednesday was created by adding new data from the 2012 and 2013 reports.
“These new numbers showing the continuing decline of the African forest elephant are the exact reason why there is a sense of urgency at the United for Wildlife trafficking symposium in London this week,” Dr. John Robinson, Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Chief Conservation Officer and Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science, said in a statement.
Conservationists gathered at the United for Wildlife symposium this week to discuss ways they could help to protect wildlife and combat the black market trade.
“The solutions we are discussing in London this week and the commitments we are making cannot fail or the African forest elephant will blink out in our lifetime. United for Wildlife, which is headed by The Duke of Cambridge, is determined to work together to turn back these numbers.”
According to the new report, Gabon, located on the west coast of Central Africa, hosts nearly 60 percent of the remaining forest elephants. If it wasn’t for the drastic drop in numbers, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would have held the largest number of forest elephants.
“The current number and distribution of elephants is mind-boggling when compared to what it should be,” WCS’s Dr. Samantha Strindberg, one of the co-authors, said in a statement. “About 95 percent of the forests of DRC are almost empty of elephants”.
WCS’s Dr. Fiona Maisels, one of the researchers releasing the new numbers and another co-author of the paper, said at least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were killed between 2002 and 2013. This number means that there were about 60 elephants killed per day, or one every 20 minutes day and night.
“By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the ivory market,” Maisels said in a statement.