As Elephant Populations Drop, We Learn Even Their Footsteps Serve a Purpose

Elefant, Kruger Nationalpark, Südafrika
Elephant, Kruger Nationalpark, Südafrika, Bild: bb
A slate of new studies this week reveal two realities about elephants: they’re great at protecting tiny critters in their environment, and humans are terrible at protecting elephants.

By Kaleigh Rogers | MOTHERBOARD

On Wednesday, data from two major surveys of African elephant populations uncovered rapidly declining numbers. One, a massive census of 18 African countries that was conducted by 90 scientists and dubbed the “Great Elephant Census,” found that there are only 352,271 savannah elephants left on 93 percent of the elephant habitat. Researchers found that, after rebounding a bit in the 90s, African elephant populations are now declining at a rate of 8 percent every year, mostly due to poaching.

“If populations continue to decline at the 8 percent rate we estimated for 2010–2014, Great Elephant Census survey areas will lose half of their savannah elephants every nine years, and [local extinction] of some populations is possible,” the researchers wrote in a paper on their findings, published in PeerJ.

This survey did not include forest-dwelling African elephants (which many experts believe are a distinct species), but another study published this week did. Unfortunately, the news was not any better.

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