Poachers in Mozambique have killed half of the countries elephants in just five years, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Elephant numbers have decreased from around 20,000 to just over 10,000 in the last half a decade in Mozambique, a government-backed study has found.
The Mozambique government said that there had been a “major decline” in national elephant population. The revelation comes following a study led by the government in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
It blames the decline on criminal gangs, saying that elephant populations are being decimated for their ivory. It also claims that Mozambique is under “serious threat” from illegal wildlife trafficking.
Mozambique’s Minister for Land, Environment and Rural Development said that it was a priority of his department to clamp down on these issues by criminalising poaching and allows assets to be seized. The Attorney General also appointed one of her deputies to focus solely on improving the prosecution of wildlife crime cases.
Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO said, “These survey results are sobering; criminals have taken a staggering toll on Mozambique’s wildlife and natural resources.”
“But I am hopeful that the Government of Mozambique, working with partners in the NGO and development community, as well as neighboring nations, will bring criminals to justice so elephants can thrive once again here.”
Poaching has been a particular issue on the African continent and has been rising in recent years. Last year, a research by Colorado State University said that wildlife crime has been on the up since 2009 and said that more than 100,000 elephants have been killed in Africa since 2010 for their ivory.
This well exceeds the birthrate for the species and has sparked urgent concern for the future survival of elephants.
Speaking last year, co-author of the report and founder of Save the Elephants Iain Douglas-Hamilton said, “It’s a complex situation for elephants across Africa, with some populations – such as in Botswana – still increasing.”
“History has taught us that numbers alone are no defence against attrition from the ivory trade, and this new work confirms that elephant numbers are decreasing in East, Central and Southern Africa.”
Image: Derek Keats via Flickr