Elephant-sized conservation news
On March 25, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that due to continuing population declines over several decades, the African savanna elephant is now listed as Endangered, and the African forest elephant is Critically Endangered. In addition to upgraded extinction risks, this is also the first time these species have been listed as two separate species.
Under the IUCN’s previous assessment, African elephants were designated as a single species and listed as Vulnerable despite serious ongoing threats to their populations, including poaching for ivory and habitat loss. The decision to separate these two species is the result of emerging new research into the genetics of elephant populations.
While the upgrades in extinction risks are heartbreaking news, these new designations now accurately reflect the current states of both populations and provide an opportunity for a renewed drive in conservation efforts to combat habitat loss and the poaching of these animals for their tusks.
In addition to providing superior care for African savanna elephants at Zoo Atlanta, we are equally committed to the conservation of African savanna elephants in the wild. Through our partnership with Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) in Zambia, Zoo Atlanta is taking an active and significant step in increased leadership in African savanna elephant conservation. CSL is a nonprofit organization that works to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, as well as identify and prevent illegal wildlife trade using anti-poaching patrols, aerial surveillance, and detection dogs. Zoo Atlanta has been partners with CSL since 2018.
The IUCN Red List now has 134,425 species, of which 37,480 are threatened with extinction. Zoo Atlanta is home to many of these species, and with your continued support, we will continue to do our part in the conservation, education, and preservation of biodiversity on our planet!
Read IUCN’s official announcement regarding African elephants here.
Keeper I, Elephants