September 25, 2016
African Elephants Could Be Extinct In 25 Years If Poachers Are Not Stopped

Experts warn that the African elephant population may face extinction within the next 25 years if something is not done to stop poachers from killing the elephants for their ivory.

The sale of illegal ivory across the world has seen a steady incline over the past 10 years, reaching highs that exceed the devastating slaughter of elephants that occurred in the 1970s and '80s, according to Metro. In all, approximately 100,000 known elephants have been killed due to poaching in Africa.

The significant decline in African elephants is visually noticeable when flying over the land. The International Union for Conservation of Nature claims that the 100,000 estimate is most likely wrong, and actually increases the estimate to 111,000 elephants killed by poachers in the last 10 years. This is due to a new survey of elephants that includes previously uncounted populations in the wild.

Regardless of the number, the slaughter of African elephants for the ivory tusks has to stop.

The study of African elephant populations, conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, reveals that there are about 415,000 African elephants left in the wild. With nearly a quarter of that number killed by poachers in just the last ten years, there is worry that the African elephant population may be extinct within the next 25 years.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature does point out that the survey of African elephant territory is not exactly systematic, so there could be between 117,000 and 135,000 uncounted elephants out there, bringing the true numbers up to over half a million. Still, at the rate they are being poached, a 25-year estimate until extinction is considered to be accurate, according to the BBC.

Although poachers are to blame for the decline in the African elephant population, Dr. Chris Thouless of the International Union for Conservation of Nature claims that there are other factors in the African elephant population decline, such as major infrastructure projects.

"We are particularly concerned about major infrastructure projects that are cutting up the elephant ranges, this is a particular problem for road development in central and east Africa."
However, he feels that the construction of new infrastructure is a smaller battle, and that stopping the poachers is a much more serious focus.Oddly enough, the African elephant population decline has occurred mostly in Northern Africa. The populations in South Africa have seen an increase. Other areas of population increase include Namibia and Uganda. However, the rate of increased population in the areas is not enough to significantly impact the overall population.

Local conservation efforts in the areas of increased population are responsible for the growth of the African elephant population. Unfortunately, the conservation efforts are not enough to save the entire African elephant population.

Gillette Hemley of the World Wildlife Foundation states that the true way to stop the poaching of African Elephants is to take down the crime syndicates that are asking for the ivory. If we stop the demand, the supply will follow.

"Larger quantities of illegal ivory are leaving Africa than ever before. The transnational crime syndicates driving the slaughter must be dismantled, and consumer demand for ivory cannot persist if we hope to secure a safe future for elephants."
Officials plan to meet on Monday to discuss the declining population of the African elephants and determine ways in which to stop poaching across the continent.
[Featured Image by Lara Zanarini/Shutterstock]