REPORT: African elephant population off 75 percent due to poaching

If nature had its way, elephants would exist in much larger numbers across the African savannah. But because of human encroachment, notably poaching, elephants’ numbers in 73 protected areas are down to 25 percent of what population totals would be if there were no poaching.

This conclusion is the result of a recent study published in the scientific journal PLOS | One. The study, funded partly by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), took 10 years to complete and is the most comprehensive indicator yet showing the true impact poaching is having on Africa’s elephant populations.

Rudi van Aarde, supervisor of the project and chair of the Conservation Ecology Research Unit (CERU) at the University of Pretoria and his team collated savanna elephant count data from 73 protected areas across the continent estimated to hold about half of Africa’s elephants.

“We’ve accounted for the impact of poaching in our models to predict ‘ecological benchmarks’ - the size populations would reach if environmental factors rather than human influence controlled population growth,” says van Aarde. “This has been a hotly debated question, especially here in southern Africa.”

This study’s data and findings will help conservationists and policy makers in their decision making to provide better protections for elephants.

These findings on poaching strengthen our resolve to see our revolutionary tenBoma project succeed in stopping poachers  through a complex system of data gathering and counterintelligence tactics before they are able to kill elephants.

Watch and share the video above – and read the full report here.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy