The African forest elephant is now considered “critically endangered” with extinction. Its grassland counterpart is in danger, according to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published Thursday.
The move follows decades of ivory poaching and habitat reduction for these animals. The two species are being assessed separately for the first time due to new indications. Previously, all African elephants were considered vulnerable. In total, nearly 135,000 species are included in the Red List. Among them, more than 37,000 are threatened with extinction, specifies the organization.
“The role of African elephants in ecosystems is crucial,” says the director general, former head of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) Bruno Oberle. He calls for a rapid end to poaching and to guarantee a suitable environment for these animals. Several African countries have recently shown that this effort is possible, he said.
The number of elephants in African forests has been estimated to have declined by more than 85% over the past three decades. That of their prairie counterparts has fallen by at least 60% over the past five decades.
Poaching peaked in 2011 but continues to threaten elephant populations. Human land use is a problem for these pachyderms. And according to the organization, there are around 415,000 African elephants left. IUCN applauds the efforts and legislation that have made it possible to further prevent their reduction or even promote an increase in countries.