Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More than 50-per-cent decline in elephants in eastern Congo due to human conflict

11.11.2011
Humans play a far greater role in the fate of African elephants than habitat, and human conflict in particular has a devastating impact on these largest terrestrial animals, according to a new University of British Columbia study published online in PLoS ONE this week.

In some of the best-documented cases to date, the study shows the elephant population in the Okapi Faunal Reserve – one of the last strongholds of forest elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – saw a 50 per cent decline in the last decade due to civil war and ivory poaching, from 6,439 to 3,288. In other parks in eastern DRC, the decimation was even greater.

“Having protected areas is not enough to save elephants in times of conflict,” says lead author Rene Beyers, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC’s Department of Zoology. “The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo had a large impact on elephant populations, including those in parks and reserves.”

“We’ve found that two factors in conservation efforts were particularly effective: a continued presence by a highly committed government field staff and continued support by international organizations – such as the Widlife Conservation Society, Gilman International Conservation and UNESCO – made a difference for their survival.”

Currently there are an estimated 6,000 elephants left in the wild in eastern Congo, down from approximately 22,000 before the civil war. These remaining animals are the only viable populations left in an otherwise enormous landscape. The war-torn DRC has the largest tract of rainforest in the Congo Basin – at 1.6 million square-kilometres, it is the second biggest continuous rainforest in the world. Scientists believe most of this forest was probably elephant habitat in the past, but poaching and human encroachment have taken a toll on the animals.

Beyers says that even in times of war, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the right funding and staffing can still have a positive impact on elephant conservation. In Rwanda, for example, national parks and reserves that received support from international NGOs were far less affected by the 1994 genocide than sites with no support.

Large-scale hunting of elephants for ivory has occurred in Africa in different periods in the 19th and 20th century. The last big poaching event happened in the late 1970s and in the 1980s, when the total population was reduced from 1.3 million to less than 600,000. Since the international ban in ivory trade in 1990, poaching for ivory stopped almost completely, but recent years have seen a resurgence.

The DRC is particularly hard-hit by poaching due to a combination of increasing demand for ivory and the lawlessness of the civil war. In the savannah of West and Central Africa, elephants declined by at least 50 per cent in the last 15 to 30 years. Large shipments of ivory originating from this region and elsewhere in Africa have been seized in Asia. Even in Kenya, which has good elephant conservation programs in place, has also seen a recent surge in poaching.

The research team includes Rene Beyers, Brian Klinkenberg and Tony Sinclair from UBC, John Hart and Simeon Dino from the Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba Project in the DRC, and Falk Grossmann from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Photos of forest and savanah elephants, conservation survey and patrol teams in the DRC, and a map of elephant populations are available at http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/?p=31703.

The study is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0027129

Brian Lin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ubc.ca

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>