Poaching empties critical Central African wilderness of forest elephants.

Abstract

Elephant populations are in peril everywhere, but forest elephants in Central Africa have sustained alarming losses in the last decade [1]. Large, remote protected areas are thought to best safeguard forest elephants by supporting large populations buffered from habitat fragmentation, edge effects and human pressures. One such area, the Minkébé National Park (MNP), Gabon, was created chiefly for its reputation of harboring a large elephant population. MNP held the highest densities of elephants in Central Africa at the turn of the century, and was considered a critical sanctuary for forest elephants because of its relatively large size and isolation. We assessed population change in the park and its surroundings between 2004 and 2014. Using two independent modeling approaches, we estimated a 78-81% decline in elephant numbers over ten years - a loss of more than 25,000 elephants. While poaching occurs from within Gabon, cross-border poaching largely drove the precipitous drop in elephant numbers. With nearly 50% of forest elephants in Central Africa thought to reside in Gabon [1], their loss from the park is a considerable setback for the preservation of the species.

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Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.023

Publication Info

Poulsen, John R, Sally E Koerner, Sarah Moore, Vincent P Medjibe, Stephen Blake, Connie J Clark, Mark Ella Akou, Michael Fay, et al. (2017). Poaching empties critical Central African wilderness of forest elephants. Curr Biol, 27(4). pp. R134–R135. 10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.023 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15857.

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Poulsen

John Poulsen

Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology

John Poulsen is an ecologist with broad interests in the maintenance and regeneration of tropical forests and conservation of biodiversity. His research has focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, such as logging and hunting, on forest structure and diversity, abundance of tropical animals, and ecological processes. He has conducted most of his research in Central Africa, where he has also worked as a conservation manager, directing projects to sustainably manage natural resources in and around parks and reserves, and as the coordinator of government programs to develop low emissions strategies and quantify and monitor forest carbon.


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