African Wildlife Foundation supports decision to classify the elephant as critically endangered
After assessing the continental elephant herd and population declines over several decades due to poaching for ivory, loss of habitat and other threats, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has up-listed the African Savannah elephant to Endangered status and African Forest Elephant to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Experts from African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) issued a statement on 29 Marchconcuring with the IUCN findings, specifically regarding the change in status of the African Forest Elephant which AWF had seen coming.
Dr. Philip Muruthi, AWF Vice President of Species Conservation and Science said they are fighting to conserve elephants in this situation by reducing trafficking and the demand for ivory in Asia and across the world, educating consumers about the real cost of ivory products and working with governments to close ivory markets.
“We support the IUCN decision at this time to update the African Forest Elephant to critically endangered and the Savannah Elephant to endangered, and believe it tracks with criteria in accordance with their red listing process,” he said.
AWF however also acknowledges that certain elephant populations across the continent are growing as a result of concerted conservation efforts in the past decade.
Dr. Muruthi further stated that they have seen sub-populations in Southern and Eastern Africa stabilised and grow since the poaching crisis that peaked in 2011.
“Concerted efforts to fight illegal wildlife trade within the continent, and the actions of some consumer countries in Asia to ban ivory trade, means that some elephant populations in Africa are currently thriving, even as we recognise the crisis, we must appreciate the progress we have made,” he added.
The latest IUCN Red List includes 134,425 species, 37,480 of which are threatened with extinction.
Currently, 8 188 species are listed as Critically Endangered and 14 106 as Endangered. Never before has the African Forest Elephant been red-listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN standards.