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Elephants in decline as killings in Africa outpace births amid China demand for ivory: Study

Published on Aug 19, 2014 3:33 AM
A plain-clothes police officer arranges seized elephant tusks to be inspected at a police station in Mombasa, Kenya, on June 5, 2014. Kenyan authorities seized 228 whole elephant tusks and 74 others in pieces as they were being packed for export. On average, poaching took an average of 33,630 elephants' lives per year from 2010 to 2012, a study has found. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - More elephants in Africa are being killed by poachers than are born each year, and the problem may be worse than previously understood, according to the most detailed assessment yet, released on Monday.

Using a newly refined approach to estimate elephant deaths, developed at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve, researchers said Africa's elephant population is declining at a rate of about 2 per cent annually.

"Basically, that means we are starting to lose the species," said lead author George Wittemyer, an assistant professor in the department of fish, wildlife and conservation biology at Colorado State University.

While the actual number of African elephants in the wild is difficult to know for certain, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates there are between 470,000-690,000.

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