Decline in elephant poaching

19 November 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

There has been a continued downward trend in elephant poaching in parts of Africa, data shows.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) has published its annual report analysing trends regarding illegally killed elephants in Africa, based on data collected by MIKE sites on the continent.

Namibia boasts two of these sites - in the Etosha National Park and in the Zambezi Region.

According to the report, 58 MIKE sites in 30 African range states submitted data relating to elephant carcasses that were detected during 2019.

The data set used for the trend analysis consists of 20 712 records of elephant carcasses found between 2003 and the end of 2019.

The report said the continental trend analysis for Africa indicated a general increase from 2003 to 2011 and an overall decrease from 2011 to 2019.

Subregional differences

While the analysis suggests an overall decline in elephant poaching in Africa since 2011, there were significant subregional differences, the report said.

The trend in southern Africa remained relatively unchanged between 2015 and 2017, before a downward trend started in 2018 and continued in 2019.

The analysis of data for 2020 to be submitted next year will, however, indicate whether this downward trend continued in the subregion.

Meanwhile, CITES said there are considerable concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on wildlife conservation, including on the ability of wildlife authorities to effectively secure protected areas.

The analysis of MIKE data collected this year and subsequent years will contribute to monitoring and understanding the potential effects of the pandemic.

‘Enhance enforcement efforts’

“The continued decline in poaching figures shown in the trends is representative of the enhanced enforcement efforts and intense conservation initiatives of parties. If we add to these findings of the 2020 World Wildlife Crime Report that ivory prices declined in various destination markets due to stricter measures imposed, we will see that states’ efforts in deterring this illegal trade are paying off,” CITES secretary-general Ivonne Higuero said.

She added that continued vigilance to push trends down further, however, remain essential.

“The treasure trove of data gathered by the hard work of rangers makes an essential contribution in providing decision-makers at both national and international levels with the information they need to make informed decisions that support the work of frontline actors to stop elephant poaching across MIKE sites and beyond.”

MIKE sites

As of 2020, there are 69 MIKE sites in 32 countries in Africa, and it is estimated that these sites hold more than 50% of the African elephant population on the continent.

By mid-September, only two elephants had been poached in Namibia, according to statistics provided by the environment ministry.

Last year, 13 elephants were poached, and 27 in 2018.

The ministry will today host a consultative workshop on the elephant conservation and management plan in Namibia. During this workshop, the ministry will share the current conservation status of elephants in Namibia.

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