Currently the Red list classifies African elephants as Vulnerable and the Central African population as Endangered. With the current losses these might be up-graded to critically endangered
Fears are high across the globe, mainly among wildlife officials, following the sudden rise in the number of elephants slaughtered in Africa. According to findings, well organized groups of people, heavily armed with war weapons are said to be responsible for such massacres. Such a scandalous atmosphere continues owing to an ever-increasing demand for ivory by Asian countries like China, Thailand and the Philippines.
Fact-finding expeditions as to the cause, course and consequences of the phenomenon have revealed that:
- African forest elephants are being poached out of existence with more than 60 percent of them lost to ivory poaching in the last 10 years and more than 80 percent in the last 25 year s(equivalent to two elephant generations).
- In early 2012, over 300 savannah elephants were killed in the northern part of Cameroon, sowing panic among authorities as per the fate of the countries protected species;
- In March 2013, close to 90 elephants were killed in southern Tchad by a group of horsemen, reportedly from the Arab world;
- At the beginning of 2013, the Gabonese government announced the loss of at least half the elephant population in the Minkebe National Park, estimating that 11000 of the animals may have been killed between 2004 and 2012;
- The rapid increase in the demand for ivory by Asian countries notably China, and the persistent lack of governance in Central Africa, are said to have combined to enhance illegal ivory poaching,transport and trade;
- Meanwhile, African forest elephants play a vital role ecologically as they are “gardeners of the forest”, moving great quantities of seeds many kilometers from the parent tree. Some trees depend uniquely on elephants for their propagation and germination and without them, these species of trees will become locally extinct;
The alarming rate at which Africa’s elephants are lost, justifies the ECCAS three-day ministers’ conference from March 21-23 in Yaounde-Cameroon, where an extreme anti-elephant poaching mechanism was put in place, to halt any further loss of the species in northern Central Africa.