More Elephants Being Killed Than Born
35K killed annually since 2010; deaths driven by illegal ivory trade
By Shelley Hazen, Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2014 2:40 PM CDT
A member of a veterinary team shouts to others to clear the area as they prepare to revive a tranquilized wild elephant during an anti-poaching elephant-collaring operation.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

(Newser) – A new study tallying the African elephant population has made a stark finding: If poaching continues at its current rate, the animal may be extinct in a century, the BBC reports. "We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent," says the study's lead author. Essentially, poachers are killing elephants faster than new births can keep up. That's because about 2 pounds of ivory from their tusks is worth thousands of dollars on the black market, and it's in high demand among China's growing middle class; they use it for trophies, medicine, and food, adds the Smithsonian. The numbers are shocking: Poachers killed 100,000 elephants in Africa from 2010 to 2012; illegal deaths now comprise 65% of the total population loss. Roughly 400,000 elephants are believed to remain in Africa, the AP reports.

Counting live elephants and poaching deaths is difficult, and the new numbers aren't exact. They are based on a combination of population and death counts from a number of localized elephant monitoring programs; those numbers were expanded to the population at large using statistical analysis, Smithsonian explains. The numbers aren't terrible across the entire continent: The highest rates are in central and east Africa, while populations are doing well in Botswana. This bright spot gives researchers hope for the future—some think elephants can survive another poaching spike like they did in the 1970s and '80s. "I have to be an optimist. I've been through all of this before … I believe we can do it again," says the founder of one conservation group. (People are also eating the scaly anteater into extinction.)

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Aug 23, 2014 7:44 AM CDT
This is what happens when greedy profit is not sufficiently regulated. There's raping of natural resources and irreversible destruction. Our actions should leave the planet in an as-good-or-better condition than we found it... our children deserve at least that. We're failing miserably, mostly by allowing profit mongers free unregulated access to natural resources.
an american
Aug 22, 2014 11:16 AM CDT
Africans needs to wake up because there has been a destroying of its beauty by greed and foolishness.... not to forget, people starving and children dying because they don't use common sense and politicians are lining their pockets and ignoring the country! They allow their forests to be cut down for the lumber, which destroys the habitat of the most beautiful animals in the world. Then, many years ago, they sold their own people into slavery and causing breakup of families and creating a history of heart wrenching circumstances. Then, presently; they have ongoing atrocities of killings of people and kidnapping and selling them as sex slaves! How can Africa continue and not realize that it is destroying itself from within? That is an atrocity on its own. how sad.... then the African Americans who are descendants of slaves here in the America's, are beginning to learn that it was their own African people who sold them into slavery here in the New World... even so, many are so embittered that instead of being angry at their own people, they are angry at white Americans. True that many whites did mistreat the slaves horribly; however, many whites treated their slaves kindly.... yet, they continue to be bitter and angry at whites and dismiss the fact that it was the Africans that sold them to the whites. Bitterness helps nobody; if African Americans can put the blame where blame belongs and free themselves from bitterness, they will learn that they are a great people... meantime, if they allow their bitterness to control them, they will never be truly happy. African Americans should also be active and take action against poachers in Africa... even if they are Americans; their motherland is Africa.... and the way it is: Africa is beautiful and it is losing its beauty by the atrocities against the people and the wildlife that God placed in such a beautiful piece of land!
Aug 21, 2014 8:47 PM CDT
In it's "Best of intentions" the United States banned the import of LEGALLY taken elephant parts, the result of which is that countries that previously sold elephant hunts to raise money for elephant habitat preservation, funding game wardens and programs beneficial to the species are GONE. The only hunters left are the unregulated, unrestricted poachers that kill only for the ivory and leave the meat to rot . The licensed hunters donated the meat to the local natives and very little was wasted..