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Emily Moon
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Humans Continue To Drive Elephant Populations Down

Conservation has become an overwhelming and scary topic over the past few years. We are all sadly aware of the horrors that are happening to many species of animals worldwide. Elephants, the large animals native to the African continent, are an important part of the African ecosystem. Many people admire elephants for their large ears, long tusks and gentle nature. However, poachers have also made it clear that they value elephants in a different way. Ivory is seen as extremely valuable since it is so rare to obtain. There are various ways poachers will use ivory, but it is mainly all for personal gain.

To obtain the ivory from elephant tusks, poachers will have to kill the elephant. Many times they will shoot the elephant, sometimes with arrows, and then rush in to finish off the job. Many poachers will cut off the trunks of elephants to ensure that the elephant will bleed out faster. Then, they will begin to remove the trunks of the elephant. These giant creatures feel all of this pain, and lose their lives due to human greediness.

Elephant populations have begun to decline due to their natural habitats being taken over or destroyed. Since elephants are such large animals, they need an immense amount of land to roam and live on. Humans have pushed elephants into small areas of land, causing there to not be enough territory or resources for them. Although this is a more recent issue, it is still contributing greatly to the decline in elephant populations. 

Poaching and the destruction of natural habitats have led to large consequences, as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared that African forest elephants are now considered to be critically endangered. According to BBC, there are only a little bit more than 400,000 elephants in the wild now. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICNU) has also revealed data stating that African forest elephant populations over the past 31 years have declined 86 percent. The number of Savanna elephants has also declined about 60 percent in the last 50 years. 

The ICNU also revealed information about genetic differences within the African elephant, which has divided the elephant into two different species: the Savanna elephant and the African Forest elephant. Both of the species are endangered, with the African Forest elephant being critically endangered due to the fact that they require a specific forest environment to thrive in.

In order to combat the rapid decline in elephant populations, it is important for anti-poaching measures to be taken and legislation to continue to be passed. In places where this has been implemented, elephant numbers have been stable. Legislation that creates designated land for elephant populations is also a great way to ensure that their numbers do not continue to decline. If these measures are applied across the entire continent of Africa, Elephants can be saved from their current status of critically endangered. 

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Erin McEwan is a freshman majoring in Environmental Science who loves cats, soccer, and all things science. Go Noles!
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