STATES CHRONICLE – The number of forest elephants is dramatically dropping due to poachers who exploit their ivory. In only one decade, poachers have euthanized about 25,000 forest elephants in Minkebe National Park in Africa. About 81% of the whole population of elephants was using this national park as a sanctuary. Based on a new study conducted by researchers at Duke University, approximately 78% of the total number of elephants had declined from 2004 to 2014.
Their new study was meant to calculate the loss which was registered in the population of forest elephants by comparing elephant excrement surveys. This terrible decline indicates that there is no safe area for these animals which could protect them from poachers. Minkebe, a 2,900-square-mile reservation in Gabon, Africa represents a fundamental role in the combat against poaching which was triggered by the high demand for ivory coming from Asia.
John Poulson, the lead author of this study and an assistant professor of tropical ecology at Duke, argued that approximately half of the total number of forest elephants in Central Africa is believed to live in Gabon. Thus, the significant loss of 25,000 elephants from this national park represents an obstacle in this species’ preservation.
African forest elephants are known to be smaller than the common savannah elephants. According to a research from last year, the forest elephant population takes a lot more time to recover since their birthrate is slower. Research conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society indicated that it might take approximately a century for forest elephants in Africa to recover in number from the poaching events which occurred from 2002 to 2013. Back then, their population dropped by 65%.
The new research which was published in Current Biology magazine on February 20 reminds us of the devastating effect of poaching on many of the longest-lived and largest creatures. Every day, in Africa, approximately a hundred elephants are killed by poachers. Sometimes, the only reason for killing them is the ivory of their tusks.
In Minkebe National Park, pressures are coming from several directions. Gabonese poachers euthanize elephants from the southern part of the park while Cameroon poachers are killing elephants located in the central and northern section of the national park. Poulson argued that Gabonese government has taken measures to annihilate poaching in the Minkebe park.
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