Poaching continues to pose a massive threat to wildlife in Africa. According to the World Animal Foundation, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. Over the last decade, 1000 park rangers have died, half of them killed by poachers. Exponentially contributing to wildlife loss is expanding agricultural intrusion, human settlement in animal sanctuary areas, and the relentless impact of climate change. In the last ten years, elephant numbers have declined 62%, with 100 killed daily for ivory, meat and body parts. Elephants may be extinct by the end of this decade.
It isn’t just about elephants. Animal numbers in general have declined 68% since 1970, as human infringement on dedicated eco systems continues unabated, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) comprehensive biennial Living Planet Report 2020. It isn’t only Africa. In North America, for example, a 24% drop off in animal species has occurred, affecting reptiles, birds and fish as well as mammals. Shockingly, vertebrate wildlife has declined two thirds since 1970.
As Robin Freeman, who headed the ZSL research trenchantly said, ”It seems that we’ve spent 10 to 20 years talking about these declines and not really managed to do anything about it. It frustrates me and upsets me. We sit at our desks and compile these statistics but they have real-life implications. It’s really hard to communicate how dramatic some of these declines are.”
Sadly, our grandchildren are likely to know these once roaming herds of majestic, intelligent elephants only through photos.