There are way fewer elephants left in Africa than we thought

September 1, 2016, 6:31 a.m.
African elephant
Photo: Amy Nichole Harris/Shutterstock

Elephants are in serious trouble. This may not be breaking news — considering that elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory for decades — but the African elephant species has reached a tipping point, and a new study reveals that there are fewer savannah elephants left than previous estimates suggested.

The recently published Great Elephant Census shows that only an estimated 352,271 savannah elephants remain in the countries surveyed — much lower than previous estimates — with a decrease of 144,000 individuals from 2007 to 2014.

CNN reports:

In the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, and Mozambique's Niassa Reserve, elephant populations have plummeted by more than 75% in the past ten years as poachers cut down family herds, according to the survey. The Babile Elephant Sanctuary in Ethiopia hasn't lived up to its name: Chase and the team counted just a single herd of 36 elephants -- the last in the Horn of Africa, a vast area roughly the size of Mexico... The current rate of species decline is 8%, meaning that elephant numbers could halve to 175,000 in nine years if nothing changes, according to the survey -- and localized extinction is almost certain.

The time is growing short for us to be able to turn the tide for elephants and spare them from extinction. If you'd like to get involved, check out six ways to help save elephants.