In this space that’s often devoted to conflict and controversy involving human beings, we look now at some of the world’s most majestic animals.
In a paper published this week, the Royal Society reports that more than 40 percent of elephant deaths in 2021 were the result of poaching. The study found that the chief drivers of the illegal killings are poor governance, weak or corrupt law enforcement, poverty — and the spiking prices of elephant ivory. Armed conflicts — often blamed for elephant killings — ranked lower in importance.
The report was based on data gathered by the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants program, which did research at 64 sites in 30 African countries and found that over the past decade, poaching has led to a 30 percent drop in African elephant populations. Beyond the loss of the animals themselves, the report found that elephant poaching results in lost tourism revenues for African countries.
Researchers say the answers to the problem involve the work of rangers who patrol national parks in several African countries, more powerful law enforcement to fight the poachers and the criminal syndicates that traffic in ivory, and programs and policies to boost incomes in the affected regions.
As the Economist put it this week, when it comes to saving the elephants, “the best form of conservation is a prosperous population.”