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Study finds worrying decline as African elephants poached for ivory

Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- New data has confirmed an ongoing decline of African forest elephants, being poached for their ivory at an alarming 9 percent a year, a conservation group says.

A study covering 80 sites in five countries found that between 2002 and 2013, 65 percent of forest elephants in Central Africa were killed, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported.

Elephant population has declined to less than 10 percent of its potential historical size, and elephants occupy only a quarter of the forests where they once roamed, the study released Wednesday at a wildlife symposium in London said.

"These new numbers showing the continuing decline of the African forest elephant are the exact reason why there is a sense of urgency at the United for Wildlife trafficking symposium in London this week," John Robinson, WCS Chief Conservation Officer, said.

"The solutions we are discussing in London this week and the commitments we are making cannot fail or the African forest elephant will blink out in our lifetime," he said.

Participants at the symposium being held at the Zoological Society of London are discussing ways to protect wildlife and combat trade.

"At least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were lost between 2002-2013 to the tune of at least 60 a day, or one every 20 minutes, day and night," WCS researcher and study co-author Fiona Maisels said. "By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the ivory market."

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