The African elephants situation may worse than what population data show, experts from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said on Monday after the African Elephant Meeting in Kasane, Northern Botswana.
Data of the population of Africa’s elephants are incomplete in Central Africa as only small percentage of the region has been surveyed. This is because forest elephants are very hard to be surveyed. Most data in the region come from Gabon, but for DR Congo, Congo, Central Africa Republic they don’t have reliable data, said Jason Bell, director of southern Africa region of IFAW, who is also the program director for elephants.
Some numbers of the elephants population are given by governments, which may also lead to inaccurate data, he said.
The director said there could be potential loss behind incomplete data. A representative from Gabon expressed his concern in the meeting they have lost far more elephants than data show.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Monday reveled the latest preliminary statistics of elephants population in Africa on the summit, which shows population in East Africa sharply decreased of more than 50,000 from 2006 to 2013. The data which still need to be reviewed showed from 2006 to 2013 the population remains stable in Central Africa, slightly decreased in Southern Africa.
While the director said the data of East Africa reflect pretty accurate trend as it is one of the best surveyed regions. The decline of elephants is because they have significant poaching, especially in Tanzania.
Southern Africa has much better ability on the ground in most countries, for example, most southern Africa elephants are in Botswana which has good capacity on the ground to deal with poaching. However, he said there is a trends that poaching waves in Eastern Africa are slowly moving to the South like Zambia. Potential poaching in the region in the future could be big problems, he said.
Michael Wamithi, adviser of IFAW, said Botswana’s neighbor South Africa is losing over 1,000 rhinos a year, before that it is said the country protected well on elephants and rhinos.
In this way, once elephant poachers actually go to the region, it may suffered loss. Cases in some countries have already showed poacher can come from far across the countries.
Because demand and price for ivories are going up, criminals may be attracted and are hard to be stopped.
The situation of African elephants are getting worse, said the expert. Enditem