- An unregulated ivory market, expansion of human settlements and issues of governance in many African countries, are hitting the population of elephants.
It is believed that in absence of conservation efforts, the steamroller of the wild, may become extinct by the end of next decade.
“Around 20,000 African elephants are being killed every year for their ivory," Marsden Momanyi, wildlife practice manager of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) told Anadolu Agency.
On an average, every day 55 elephants are killed, out of the lust for ivory products.
Estimates show that at illicit wildlife trade has turned out to become the fourth biggest international organized crime, worth over a whopping $18 billion every year.
Elephants, known as jumbos of forest, are vital for the ecosystem and the biodiversity.
“They help to maintain forest and savanna ecosystems for other species and are integral to the biodiversity," said Momanyi, on occasion of the "World Elephants Day" celebrated every year on Aug 12.
"Elephants clean and create gaps in the canopy that encourages tree regeneration. In the savannas, they reduce bush cover to create an environment favorable, to a mix of browsing and grazing animals," he explained.
The expert believed that at least a third of tree species in the forests of Central Africa need elephants to distribute their seeds.
Momanyi said the rampant poaching, out of greed for ivories and loss of habitat, were two major threat to the elephant population.
Besides, the governance issues in various African countries are also hitting the animal.
"Around 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the past century, mainly due to the ivory trade.” he said.