With the changing climate and human deforestation and poaching, we’ve seen all kinds of alarming changes to our planet, including the increasingly dwindling number of species.
African elephants are majestic creatures that are some of the largest mammals to walk the face of our planet. Unfortunately, they’re also now some of the most threatened species as of Thursday.
On Thursday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature released a statement saying they’d listed the African forest elephant – also known by the scientific name Loxodonta cyclotis – as critically endangered, and the African savanna elephant – Loxodonta africana – as endangered.
Before this new change, both elephant species had been lumped together as one and were simply noted as being vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species – a list that classifies species according to their conservation status. These elephants are facing threats to their populations due to habit-loss and poaching – all caused by human interference.
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Back in 2016, it was reported that the combined number of both species of African elephants was roughly 415,000.
However, as the IUCN shared, the number of the African forest elephants has decreased more than 86% over a period of 31 years. At the same time, the African savanna elephant population has seen at least a 60% decrease over the span of 50 years.
The Red List holds 134,425 species, and there are at least 37,480 species that are under threat of extinction. Seeing the African elephants join the list of endangered species is very sad news for the IUCN, which has been hard at work with anti-poaching efforts, as well as plans for land use in order to bolster more long-term conservation efforts.
As the IUCN Director, General Bruno Oberle, stated, “Africa’s elephants play key roles in ecosystems, economies and in our collective imagination all over the world. Today’s new IUCN Red List assessments of both African elephant species underline the persistent pressures faced by these iconic animals.”
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