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 Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases
21.08.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

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: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>