Elephants In The Dust

The African Elephant Database http://elephantdatabase.org

The African Elephant Database is managed by the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group and is a collaborative effort between conservation agencies and researchers in African elephant range States. Infor­ mation on elephant distribution and abundance is col- lected through field surveys and questionnaires, and stored in the African Elephant Database. In the past, every three to five years, the data on elephant popula- tions and range have been assembled and presented in an African Elephant Status Report. Four such reports have been published and these reports are recognized as the most reliable and authoritative data on elephant populations in Africa. Shifting to an online interface in 2012, and including data on the Asian elephant from the IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group, the African and Asian Elephant Database will now publish annual updates on the status of the African elephant. The on- line database also includes the latest submissions of data for individual elephant populations as they come in, providing up to date information to the public at the population level. For calculations of impacted range, actual estimates of the ele­ phant range were based on the distribution of the ranges classed as “known” and “possible” (Fig. 1) (Blanc et al. 2007). To better illustrate regional pressures, a wider area beyond the ranges shown in Fig. 1 and 2 is given. From an ecological perspective, the consequences of the projected habitat loss would be dire, with serious economic implications for the countries concerned. Currently, an estimated 29 per cent of the area defined as cur- rent “known” and “possible” elephant range (see Blanc et al. 2007 for definition of range) is classified as heavily impacted by human development. This may rise to 63 per cent in the next 40 years, leaving the ranges in Southern Africa mostly intact. If this is combined with poaching, elephant ranges will likely be greatly reduced in parts of Eastern Africa and the elephant may be eradicated locally across parts of Central and West Africa.

The model integrates data from satellite imagery as well as land use changes from the IMAGE model, including human population density and growth, resource abundance and exploration, pollution, climate change and many other additional factors (see Alkemade et al. 2009 for review and www.globio.info). Range and habitat loss are the most significant long-term threats to the African elephant’s survival.

Figure 1: African elephant range and population density.


Made with