the elephant

The African Elephant

According to the African Elephant Status Report in 2007 by the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN), elephants have been documented in 37 countries in sub Saharan Africa; the Savanna, Loxodonta africana, mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa and Forests and L. cyclotis, mainly in Congo Basin of Central Africa. Much of the existant population is fragmented by human activities disturbing traditional migration routes. One of the highest population growths in the next 25 years is expected to be in sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate of African women remains high at nearly six live births. To avoid malnutrition, Sub-Saharan Africa will need to increase its food production three-fold, turning the existing wildlife habitat into cropland, escalating the problem of declining elephants populations and habitat fragmentation. These two factors commonly induce increasing conflict with humans, higher risks of poaching and more severe impact on habitats, as elephant densities increase through compression and recruitment

Protected Areas

African elephant populations in formal protected areas are only 20% against the 80% of them that are uncounted as in most cases surveys and research are focused on the protected areas. Recently range states has learned that without those linkages and corridors to allow seasonal migration and genetic exchange, conservation of elephant and other wildlife is subjected to failure. However, the challenge remains on how to create linkages between protected areas without increasing conflicts between humans and elephants.

Sustainable Tourism

African range states take strong measures to protect elephants due to their significance on tourist trade on their economies. Kenya alone receives $50 million a year from tourists coming to see elephants. The national parks bring in much-needed income, and none consumptive tourism is a source of income of which, in most cases guarantees its survival.

Ivory Trade

The elephant population decline has raised concern worldwide and led to a complete ban on the ivory trade in 1990s. Elephants have been placed on Appendix I of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which means all trades in elephant parts are prohibited. However, not all governments support the ivory ban. In Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana, for example, government agencies say that trade in ivory should be rather regulated than prohibited. They claim that all members of range states that are managing their elephants well should be permitted to sell ivory in order to pay for conservation measures, such as park rangers and equipments. Others argue that the only effective solution is a total ban, because of the difficulties on how to distinguish ivory of elephants that were legally killed from those which were poached. So far, no consensus has been reached on the effectiveness, fairness, and wisdom of the ivory ban.


The Asian elephant population ranges between 38,000 and 52,000 far lower than the more than 100,000 heads estimated at the turn of the century. These numbers found in the wild are rough estimates. The process of trying systematically conduct census in the densely forested regions of Asia is tremendously hard. In many countries, unfavorable policies hinder census work. An additional 15,000 Asian elephants are assumed to be held in captivity and play a significant role in the culture and economy of the region. They are important religious symbols that also been have domesticated for logging and other manual labor.

IUCN Status: Endangered The IUCN’s Species Survival Commission of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group estimates that there are approximately 38,000 to 51,000 wild Asian elephants. In comparison, there are more than 450,000 elephants in Africa.


The loss of habitat is the primary threat to Asian elephants. Approximately 20% of the world’s human population lives in or near the range of Asian elephants. The homes of these elephants are being cleared for many reasons including warfare, agricultural development, human settlement, and logging. Asian elephants are less prone to poaching (killing for ivory tusks) because few males (and no females) grow tusks. In China, the penalty for poaching is the death sentence.

Conflicts between Asian elephants and humans often occur because of habitat destruction. Sometimes there is not enough food in small forests to sustain elephants, so they look for the nearest source which are usually the fields of local farmers.

World Elephant Centre will work in collaboration with range states, wildlife authority, experts, local Communities and concerned Individuals to reduce threats to both species.

WEC Vision

To be a world leader in applied scientific elephant research, information sharing and conservation to ensure that elephants endure forever.