Biologists are concerned about the situation of African elephants. The mighty savanna creatures are in danger because their population is rapidly decreasing. They have slow birth rates and hunters threaten them. New solutions for protecting the wildlife are necessary.
Researchers are amazed by the recent statistics. They show that the population of African elephants has been reducing by thirty percent since 2007. What is even more concerning is that the severe drop is caused by poachers.
On the other hand, the situation of forest elephants in Africa is even worse than that of the savanna elephants. Recent reviews show that their number has decreased by sixty-two percent in the last decade, which is double in comparison to their savanna relatives. They are also smaller, and perhaps this turns them into an easier prey for poachers than the large-sized savanna creatures.
Researchers are worried because African elephants have a slow rhythm of reproduction. Females start reproducing after ten years of age, and their pregnancy lasts for almost two years. They also have another baby at least one year after their last one. This is why scientists believe that the African elephants’ population won’t be able to regain their balance soon. They estimate that it would take the animals at least ninety years to reach the numbers they had back in the early 2000s.
Forest African elephants display an even slower process. Recent findings show that females start reproducing at the age of twelve, and they get pregnant every five years.
African elephants have been subjects of constant monitoring for the past thirty-five years. It is all part of a project called the Great Elephant Census. Through it, researchers endeavor to gather as many relevant data as possible in the numbers of elephants and their evolution. This will help scientists come up with proper preservation measures.
Researchers have been able to track so far more than one thousand African elephant individuals. They keep registers of the animals’ birth rates and population number.
Hunters are after animals such as elephants and rhinos because of their ivory tusks. Ivory is considered to be an extremely valuable material, worth thousands of dollars on the market. Other animals are also hunted for their teeth. Although poaching and ivory trade are illegal, there are still people who do it.
Reports dating from 2014 show that there is an estimated number of 700,000 African elephants. However, Asian elephants are even fewer, as their population has only 32,000 members.
Image courtesy of: Flickr