Elephants In The Dust

Trend in Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) in Africa

Percentage of elephants illegally killed in Africa *


Estimated PIKE



PIKE is an index that measures the proportion of illegally killed elephants to the total of carcasses found. It ranges from 0.0 (no illegal killings) to 1.0 (all carcasses found are illegally killed elephants).






O take sustainability limit






* at reporting Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) sites 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 0

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

Source: CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, 2012. Note: PIKE values for 2012 are only for the rst 6 months of the year.

Source: CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, 2012

Figure 8: The PIKE trend across Africa show a clear increase in the proportion of illegally killed elephants from 2006 and up to 2012. number of definite plus probable elephant numbers in Africa (CITES 2012a; see Blanc et al. 2007 for further definition of population categories). The PIKE trends across African MIKE sites suggest an ongoing increase in levels of poaching since 2006, with 2011 showing the highest levels of poaching since MIKE records began in 2002 (CITES 2012a). The continental PIKE level rose from 0.24 in 2005 to 0.7 in 2011, which was higher than that of 2010 which was at 0.6. Data from the first six months of 2012 indicate that PIKE levels will likely be similar to 2011. The data make it possible to estimate the percentage and actual number of elephants being killed in MIKE sites. In 2011, approximately 7.4 per cent of the total elephant popula- tions in African MIKE sites were killed illegally. This is a signifi- cant increase from 2010, when the average number of elephants killed was estimated to be 11,500.

Healthy elephant populations have a natural annual growth rate of between 5 and 6 per cent (Dunham 2012), or a theo- retical maximum of 7 per cent (Hanks 1973). Thus the 7.4 per cent estimated illegal off-take in 2011 indicates an unsustain- able trend of elephants being killed faster than they can breed. If this trend continues over a number of years, current poach- ing levels will lead to significant population declines across much of the continent. Sub-regional overview Central Africa has shown worrying poaching trends for some time, and has consistently displayed the highest levels of poaching in any sub-region since MIKE monitoring began. In 2006, PIKE levels were at 0.5, meaning that about half the elephant carcasses encountered on patrol in MIKE sites were reported as illegally killed. In 2011, however, PIKE levels had risen to 0.9. This extremely high PIKE level exceeds any of Figure 9: Since 2010, the percentage of elephants being killed illegally at MIKE sites across Africa has been higher than their natural reproduction rate.


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