Quantcast

68 Elephants Massacred in Democratic Republic of Congo in Past 60 Days, Is Extinction Only Decades Away?

Animals

[Editor's note: The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said this week that 68 elephants have been killed in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past two months, with AFP reporting 30 killed in just over two weeks. Armed Militants have aggressively moved into the poaching business to use money from illegal ivory to buy food, weapons and ammunition.]

A recent summit on elephant population and habitat has led to some dire predictions: the African elephant may go extinct within our lifetimes.

Putting the end date at just decades away, the African Elephant Summit, which hosted delegates from various Asian, European and African countries, focused on mitigating poaching and increasing elephant habitats around the continent.

The statistics presented are staggering. In the 1940s, there were thought to be around 3-5 million African elephants in the wild. These days conservation organizations are estimating only 500,000 to 700,000 elephants currently exist. The largest drops came during the 1980′s when the continent saw widespread turbulence. Rather than rising back up from the fall when stability took over much of the region, increased poaching has hastened the elephant’s population decline.

Elephant killed by poachers in Kenya. Photo credit: elainedawn / Flickr

The summit highlighted the link between poverty, infant mortality and poaching, showing a correlation between desperate communities, and how susceptible they can be to engaging in the illegal wildlife trade.

Yet, despite these dire warnings, there is a small beacon of hope in the midst.

Uganda, which saw a dramatic loss in wildlife during the 1980 bush wars, has become an example to many African nations on how to reintroduce the species while combating poaching.

In 1982 the population of elephants in Uganda fell to the drastically low number of 2,000. Today, that number has more than doubled with more than 5,000 elephants roaming freely and steady population increases.

Although poaching still exists in Uganda’s national parks, the rate has fallen in recent years.

In 2010, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) noted that 25 elephants were killed by poachers annually in their national parks. However, thanks to new outposts, community outreach and advancing technology, by 2013 that number fell to just five elephants. In fact, although Uganda remains a transit hub for ivory poached in conflict zones such as South Sudan and the DRC, comparatively little ivory is sourced from Uganda.

Jossy Muhangi, a spokesman with the UWA, says to combat local poachers (who often sell to international syndicates), they’ve created intelligence agencies that go into local communities and attempt to discourage the hunting of bush meat and trading of ivory or pangolin skins. It is this community outreach that has led to several important tips on ivory smugglers, including a storehouse outside of Entebbe, where raw ivory was manufactured into trinkets.

He also says that increased ranger posts, both on lakes and on land, have helped discourage those that try to slip out by boat under the cover of darkness. It is this multi-pronged approach that has helped elephants continue to increase their populations around the country, while keeping poaching deaths at a regional low.

In fact, the Uganda Conservation Foundation measured a 40 percent increase in elephants coming to Uganda (from Democratic Republic of Congo borders) and a 24 percent reduction in elephants entering the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is likely due to sporadic fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and protection afforded to elephants within the Ugandan side of the park.

Although other countries around Africa have a myriad of different issues which contribute to high rates of poaching, it seems that addressing local factors such as poverty, as well as porous borders and a lack of highly trained anti-poaching task forces, can make significant headway in anti-poaching measures. This is a model many countries can emulate around the continent, ensuring that within our lifetimes, the African elephant remains an important member of the continent’s ecosystem.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Global War Against Nature: 100 Elephants Killed Each Day in Illegal Ivory Trade

David Suzuki: Hundreds of Grizzly Bears Will Die in Barbaric Trophy Hunt

Vandana Shiva: ‘Our Very Existence on This Planet Is Being Called Into Question’

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Ragú Old World Style Traditional is one of three flavors named in a voluntary recall. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Spaghetti with plastic sauce? That's what you might be eating if you pour one of three flavors of Ragú sauce over your pasta.

Mizkan America, the food company that owns Ragú, announced Saturday that it was voluntarily recalling some Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, Old World Style Traditional and Old World Style Meat sauces because they might be contaminated with plastic fragments, The Today Show reported.

Read More Show Less