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 assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less