Extinct and Endangered Plants and Animals

What is the status of the African elephant?

From 1979 to 1989, Africa lost half of its elephants from poaching and illegal ivory trade, with the population decreasing from an estimated 1.3 million to 600,000. This led to the transfer of the African elephant from threatened to endangered status in October 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). An ivory ban took effect on January 18, 1990. Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have agreed to restrict the sale of ivory to a single, government-controlled center in each country. All countries have further pledged to allow independent monitoring of the sale, packing, and shipping processes to ensure compliance with all conditions. Finally, all three countries have promised that all net revenues from the sale of ivory will be directed back into elephant conservation for use in monitoring, research, law enforcement, other management expenses, or community-based conservation programs within elephant range.

Current population estimates are 470,000 to 690,000 elephants throughout Africa. A newer concern is the reduction of their natural habitat. The human populations are expanding to areas of elephant habitat. New land areas, that were once elephant habitat areas, are now being used for agriculture.


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