Poaching Driving Down African Elephant Populations


African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at a pace unseen since an international ban on the ivory trade took effect in 1989. But the public outcry that resulted in that ban is absent today, and a University of Washington conservation biologist contends it is because the public seems to be unaware of the giant mammals’ plight.

The elephant death rate from poaching throughout Africa is about 8 percent a year based on recent studies, which is actually higher than the 7.4 percent annual death rate that led to the international ivory trade ban nearly 20 years ago, said Samuel Wasser, a UW biology professor.

But the poaching death rate in the late 1980s was based on a population that numbered more than 1 million. Today the total African elephant population is less than 470,000.

“If the trend continues, there won’t be any elephants except in fenced areas with a lot of enforcement to protect them,” said Wasser.

Continued rapid human population growth also poses a big threat to elephants and other wild animals of Africa. We need international agencies to make a serious effort to cut down the fertility rate in Africa. Too many people means more poverty, disease, and habitat loss.

Wow! Randall Parker… thanks for stating the obvious!!! Rapidly growing populations will put stress on the biosphere and other animals. In addition, more people just dilutes the natural resources, and even if they are exploited by a “socialist” government in Africa or private “investors,” it seems that the wealth from these resources will be concentrated to Western (or Chinese) investors or kleptocracies. So this will yield a higher Gini coefficient because it does not seem likely that natural resource wealth will enrich most Africans. Lack of capital investment precludes job opportunities too.

It seems to me that almost no one (I am not accusing anyone specifically) on these forums seriously wants poverty to be eradicated and living standards to be improved for most of the world. Many on this forum see poverty as a “opportunity” for private charity and a chance to show that we love our neighbor. As for myself, I simply do not see anything positive about it so I only see it as a*** problem ***causing immense human misery. I cannot see this with rose-colored glasses. More poverty most certainly isn’t a good thing at all.

I agree. I just don’t see any redemptive value in suffering (though I know a lot of Catholics do). I say relieve suffering wheneve we can. :shrug:

Natural selection is playing a little joke on ivory poachers…

**Elephants Evolve Smaller Tusks Due to Poaching
A species’ evolution has long been thought to take thousands of years to produce seemingly minor changes.

It appears that in at least one case, however, evolution is occurring at what seems like jet speed. In the last 150 years, the world’s elephant population has evolved much smaller tusks.

The average size of an African elephant’s tusks has gone down by half in the last century and a half. Indian elephants have undergone a similar tusk size reduction.**

**More tuskless male elephants appear in China due to poaching

More male Asian elephants in China will be born without tusks because poaching of tusked elephants is reducing the gene pool, Saturday’s China Daily quoted the results of a recent study as saying.

Research by Zhang Li, an associate professor of zoology with the college of life sciences at Beijing Normal University, discovered that the gene for tusklessness is spreading among the endangered species in its habitat in Yunnan Province of Southwest China.

The gene, which exists in Asian elephants at a normal ratio of 2 to 5 per cent, has increased to 5 per cent to 10 per cent in China among males of the species, according to Zhang’s research**

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