African elephants are at an increased risk of extinction due to poaching and habitat loss, conservationists have warned.
Both of the continent’s species, forest and savanna elephants, have been labelled as endangered in the new Red List produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The two species have seen significant declines over the past few decades. The numbers of forest elephants have fallen by more than 86 percent over 31 years, with savanna elephants declining by at least 60 percent over half a century, experts said.
There have been sharp falls in numbers since 2008 due to a significant increase in ivory poaching, which the IUCN said peaked in 2011.
Ongoing conversions of habitats, mostly to agricultural sites, also pose a significant threat to the world’s largest land animal, the assessment said.
The most recent estimate said there are around 415,000 elephants across the continent in the two species combined.
IUCN director general Dr Bruno Oberle said: “IUCN Red List assessments of both African elephant species underline the persistent pressures faced by these animals.
“We must urgently put an end to poaching and ensure that sufficient suitable habitats for both forest and savanna elephants are conserved.
“We can reverse elephant declines and we must work together.”
This article was first published by The Express on 26 March 2021. Lead Image: Are elephants about to become extinct? (Image: Getty).
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