THE number of elephants in Africa has dropped by 111,000 in 10 years to just 415,000 today, according to a study published yesterday (Sunday), as experts met in Johannesburg to discuss whether to lift the 27-year-old ban on the ivory trade.
The survey, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, found that an average of 50 elephants have been killed every day since 2006. It blamed poachers seeking their tusks for sale, mainly to Asian markets.
The African Elephant Status Report found that southern Africa had more than half the continent's elephants, followed by East Africa - although its populations were found to be the worst-hit by poachers with an estimated 50 per cent decline in numbers. The survey confirms the decline revealed by the Great Elephant Census, released last month, which looked at Savannah elephant populations in 18 countries and found they had dropped by 30 per cent to 352,000 in seven years.
The figures come at the start of the largest gathering in the 43-year history of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), the global wildlife body which oversees the protection of more than 500 plants and animals, in Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa are proposing that the ban on the ivory trade should be lifted, arguing that selling national stockpiles will release much-needed conservation funds and thwart illegal poaching.