About Africa's Elephants
About Africa’s Elephants
There are two distinct types of African elephants, savannah elephants and forest elephants. Genetic, morphological, ecological, and behavioral evidence supports identifying African elephants as two separate and distinct species: Loxodonta africana (savannah elephants) and Loxodonta cyclotis (forest elephants). Savannah elephants live mostly in southern and east African savannahs and plains, while forest elephants largely roam central Africa’s dense forests. Elephants are a keystone species, meaning they play an extremely important role in maintaining the biodiversity in the ecological systems in which they live.
A recent census of Africa’s savannah elephants found just 350,000 remaining, while the exact number of Africa’s forest elephants is unknown. Elephants are social and intelligent animals that are typically found in herds or eight to 100 individuals and travel long distances to find food or water. Elephant herds are comprised of family members or groups of families that provide for and protect the young and are led by a matriarch, often the oldest and largest female. Tragically these same matriarchs, and other older elephants are the most targeted by poachers; who kill the animals for their more prominent and developed tusks.
Threats to Africa’s Elephants
The single greatest threat to Africa’s elephants is the global the ivory trade. Elephants are being poached in mass numbers and their ivory trafficked to fulfill an explosive demand for ivory products from consumers in countries like China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were poached for their ivory, and between 2002 and 2013, forest elephant numbers dropped by 65 percent. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 elephants are being killed each year for their tusks. Other threats to African elephants include the loss and degradation of habitat, conflict with humans and habitat loss.
EIA: Fighting to Protect Elephants
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has been campaigning to protect elephants from the ivory trade for more than 25 years. Through our investigations we trace and expose the illegal ivory trade—tracking elephant poaching in Africa, monitoring transit activity, and revealing the illegal markets and flawed legal systems that sustain black market trade in consumer countries. EIA campaigns for positive change in legislation and policies at national and international levels to close loopholes that facilitate ivory laundering and to increase penalties for poachers and ivory traders. EIA supports ending all ivory trade, both internationally and domestically.