African elephants set for extinction

African elephants set for extinction

African elephants set for extinction

African forest elephants will be extinct in the next decade and rapid action is necessary, according to researchers. AP photo

Forest elephant numbers have decreased by 62% across Central Africa over the last 10 years, according to a study. The analysis confirmed fears that African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are heading for extinction, possibly within the next decade, BBC has reported.

Conservationists said “effective, rapid, multi-level action is imperative” in order to save the elephants. They are concerned the forest elephants are being killed for their ivory.

Results of the study, undertaken by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), are published in the scientific journal PLoS One. Over 60 co-authors contributed to the study, which was led by Fiona Maisels, a WCS conservation scientist from the School of Natural Sciences, University of Sterling.

“We were horrified that the decline over the period of a mere decade was over 60%,” Maisels told BBC Nature. Findings also indicated that large areas where the elephants ranged just 10 years ago now have very few elephants remaining.

Scientists surveyed forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

Maisels said survey teams spent “91,600 person-days... walking over 12,875 kilometers to compile the largest amount of African forest elephant data ever collected. “Forest elephants were increasingly uncommon in places with high human density, high levels of infrastructure, indicated by levels of corruption and absence of law enforcement,” said Maisels.

Conservationists suggest that almost one-third of the land where African forest elephants were living 10 years ago has become dangerous for animals, since poachers can access these areas using road networks meant for logging.