While it’s no secret to anyone that illegal wildlife hunting, also known as poaching, threatens the existence of many species of animal, the danger that it poses to individual species, such as the iconic African elephant, remains largely unknown due to the covert nature of poaching.
However, a team of researchers from Kenya, the United States, and the United Kingdom have finally put continent-wide figures on African elephant deaths caused by poaching thanks to the latest data that has been gathered from various elephant monitoring programs, and the results are saddening to say the least.
The World Wildlife Fund has estimated that there are between 470,000 and 690,000 African elephants in the wild right now. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, however, that designation has not been updated since 2008.
The team of researchers has estimated that the total population of African elephants has declined by 2% each year for the last four years. There are even some individual populations whose population has declined by as much as 7% annually.
The study showed that elephant poaching went on the rise in 2008 and peaked in 2011, with around 40,000 elephants being killed in that year alone. Poachers are driven by the significant sums of money that they can get by selling elephant parts. These parts are used as trophies, or even medicine and food in countries such as China and Vietnam.
Read more about the story at BBC.