“I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.”
Millions of elephants once roamed Africa – 90% of them are now gone
Less than 100 years ago over 5 million elephants roamed in the African wild.
In 1979 there were 1.3 million elephants.
From 1979 to 1989 over 50% of the elephant population was killed. This led to an ivory ban in 1989. At that time, there were only 600,000 elephants left. In 2012, only around 420,000 remained.
No one knows exactly how many African elephants are left today. Some experts believe the number is no higher than 400,000 and possibly as low as 250,000.
The estimates of the number of elephants killed each year also range considerably, from 25,000 to 36,000 to 52,000 (a recent estimate by the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington). Around 100 elephants are being killed every day – that’s one every 15 minutes.
If this rate of killing continues, elephants will be facing extinction within a decade. The need for a global ban on the ivory trade has never been so dire.