By Antony Sguazzin
Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft Corp (MSFT:US). with Bill Gates, will fund a survey of the number of elephants in Africa to help combat poaching that is claiming the life of one of the pachyderms every 15 minutes.
The family trust of Allen, who’s worth $15.7 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, will fund an $8 million count of the animals in 13 countries using three fixed-wing airplanes and two helicopters, Botswana-based Elephants Without Borders said today in an e-mailed statement.
“This is the bleakest time for the elephants,” Allen, 60, said in the statement. “Statistics on the plight of Africa’s elephants are daunting.”
A fifth of Africa’s elephants may be wiped out over the next decade if poaching continues at its current pace, with about 22,000 killed last year, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Traffic and the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a Dec. 2 statement. The animals are poached for their ivory tusks.
Estimates of the African elephant population vary between 410,000 and 650,000 and in some countries there haven’t been surveys for many years, Elephants Without Borders said. They are now found in 35 African nations, down from an initial 46, and in 20 of those they number less than 1,000.
Most African elephants are found in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia.