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Study: Elephants Disappearing from Parts of Africa


Elephants in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, April 20, 2016.

Elephants in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, April 20, 2016.

The number of elephants living in Africa continues to drop.

A survey reporting on elephant counts was released last week. It shows the future of the species is in trouble.

Elephants are facing extinction in parts of the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Zambia, according to the Great Elephant Census (GEC).

The study estimated a population of 352,271 elephants in the 18 countries surveyed. That is a drop of nearly 150,000 elephants since 2007. The researchers say the population has been falling by about 8 percent each year.

The GEC points out one large reason for the decrease in the elephant population. Ivory poaching has led to the lower numbers of elephants in most of the countries surveyed.

Ivory tusks are stacked to be burned in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 30, 2016. On Saturday, 105 tons of elephant ivory and more than 1 ton of rhino horn were destroyed in a bid to stamp out the illegal ivory trade.

Ivory tusks are stacked to be burned in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 30, 2016. On Saturday, 105 tons of elephant ivory and more than 1 ton of rhino horn were destroyed in a bid to stamp out the illegal ivory trade.

Even more troubling is where the dead elephants are being killed. The study reported a high number of carcasses - around 12 for every 100 live elephants – are being found on protected grounds. This number was highest in Cameroon.

There, 83 carcasses were found for every 100 live elephants. Many of the elephants were victims of killing by poachers for their ivory.

Many of these protected areas for wildlife are located on Africa’s savannahs. Savannahs are large flat areas of land with grass and very few trees.

The GEC was started in 2014. Its job is to monitor savannah elephants across Africa. All other studies and counts of elephants before this survey were estimates.

The survey was conducted by air. Researchers in dozens of airplanes counted the animals as they flew over the groups of elephants.

The census also used video cameras to help count the elephants.

I’m Anne Ball.

Esha Sarai wrote this story for VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted her report for Learning English. Jill Robbins was the editor.

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Words in This Story

extinctionn. the state or situation that results when something (such as a plant or animal species) has died out completely

carcassn. a bodies of a dead animal

ivoryn. a hard white substance that forms the tusks of elephants and other animals-- it is valuable and sold for making jewelry and other goods

poachingv. hunting or fishing illegally

savannahn. a large flat area of land with grass and very few trees especially in Africa and South America

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