Battle to save Africa's elephants is gaining some ground

Published: 13th April 2018 05:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2018 06:32 PM  

Africa's elephant population has plummeted from millions around 1900 to a few lakhs today. Intelligent and emotional, with highly developed social behavior, elephants have been hunted for their ivory for centuries. (Photo | AP)
A ban on commercial trade in ivory across international borders went into effect in 1990, but many countries continued to allow the domestic buying and selling of ivory. (Photo | AP)
Increased demand from consumers in China fueled a new wave of killings. In Tanzania alone, the elephant population declined by 60 percent to 43,000 between 2009 and 2014, according to the government. (Photo | AP)
A few years back much of the slaughter happened in an ecosystem comprising the Selous and the adjacent Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. At present the battle to save Africa's elephants appears to be gaining momentum in the region. (Photo | AP)
An operation to attach GPS tracking collars in the body of the elephants is being carried out near Mikumi National Park. The collars are designed to allow rangers to track the movement of elephant herds, and then mobilize to protect them if they move into poaching hotspots. By receiving satellite-transmitted data on mobile phones, rangers could also intercept elephants that drift into a human settlement or fields of crops. (Photo | AP)
However, the fight against the illegal ivory trade is like squeezing a balloon — when gains are made in one area, such as Tanzania, the killings intensify in another spot, like Mozambique's Niassa reserve to the south, which is linked to the Selous by a wildlife corridor. In this picture, a team of wildlife veterinarians use a 4x4 vehicle and a rope to turn over a tranquilized elephant in order to attach a GPS tracking collar and remove the tranquilizer dart. (Photo | AP)
Suspected traffickers are a threat to more than elephants. In August 2017, conservationist Wayne Lotter, credited with helping Tanzanian authorities dismantle some ivory smuggling operations, was murdered in Dar es Salaam in an apparent hit. (Photo | AP)
Tanzania's Selous-Mikumi region is known as one of the biggest killing fields for African elephants, but the vast wilderness of about 23,000 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) still offers hope for the world's biggest land animal. (Photo | AP)
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