First Comprehensive Update on the Status of Africa’s Elephants Since 2007


New figures for the number of forest and savannah elephants remaining across the African continent were released today, giving the first comprehensive data in nine years.

According to the new Status Report by the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, Africa now holds an estimated 415,000 elephants, which is over 100,000 fewer than they were in 2007,. The report covers all 37 nations in the elephant’s range, and includes data from more than 180 surveys. A further 117,000 to 135,000 elephants may also exist in areas not yet systematically surveyed.

The report includes the survey data collected by the Great Elephant Census (GEC), whose results were released earlier this month, but adds data from the forests and remote savannah populations. The GEC conducted aerial counts of savannah elephant populations in most of the range states and found a decline of 30% in 7 years. The IUCN Status Report compiled aerial surveys from savannahs and ground dung counts in the forests and reported a 22% decline across the entire range.

“The new Status Report shines a spotlight on the devastation being inflicted on vulnerable elephant populations across the continent, and shows the urgency of nations to end their domestic ivory trades,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.

Zakouma in Chad suffered the loss of 90 per cent of their elephants, while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s largest nation and formerly the stronghold of the forest elephants, is now thought to harbour only between five and ten thousand elephants. As a region, East Africa lost almost half of its elephants since 2007, mostly due to huge declines in Tanzania and Mozambique.

The overall numbers reported were buoyed by the inclusion of new data from areas that had never been surveyed before. Most of the Republic of Congo – a huge and inaccessible area of forest, was counted for the first time by teams led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

“This report not only provides information on the changes in elephant numbers but, because it is spatial, it also shows where these changes are occurring. It tracks many elephant populations over time at the site level, allowing us to learn more about why elephant populations are lost or persist in certain areas. This detailed information is essential for understanding what is driving changes in elephant populations,” said Chris Thouless, lead author of the report.

The publication will provide critical data to guide conservation efforts across Africa, identifying areas of concern and priority. The lead author of the report, Chris Thouless, is a Strategic Advisor to Save the Elephants and manager of the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF). To date the ECF has supported over 100 urgent projects with over 40 partners in 22 different countries.

About Save the Elephants
Save the Elephants (STE) works to secure a future for elephants in a rapidly changing world. To battle the current surge in ivory poaching, the STE/WCN Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective global partners to stop poaching, thwart traffickers and end demand for ivory. As leaders in elephant science, STE also provides cutting-edge scientific insights into elephant behavior, intelligence, and long-distance movement and applies them to the long-term challenges of elephant conservation.