African elephant survey shows population in decline

Poaching is driving elephants to extinction, and experts say their number could halve over the next decade.

An African elephant. Picture: animal.nationalgeographic.com

JOHANNESBURG - The first continent-wide survey of African elephants show their number has declined by a third in the past 10 years.

Poaching is driving elephants to extinction, and experts say their numbers could halve over the next decade.

The decline in elephants is described as catastrophic.

The aerial census by 90 scientists and 286 crew shows they have been wiped out from some sanctuaries.

Experts say the number of elephants is lower than they had estimated.

They apparently have the capacity to know the areas in which they are safe and to congregate there.

But some of these, for example Botswana, have fallen under the sway of ivory poachers.

Elephant ecologist Mike Chase says if Botswana can't safeguard its elephants, there is little chance of other countries being able to do this.