New data from the field in Central Africa shows that between 2002 and 2013, 65 percent of forest elephants were killed. They are being poached, for their ivory, at a shocking 9 percent per year.

This new data marks an update to an earlier paper published in the journal PLOS ONE on the status of forest elephants across Central Africa, published by the same scientists. Many organizations collaborated in the study which covered 80 sites, in five countries, over the twelve years of data collection. 

Said WCS’s Dr. Fiona Maisels, one of the researchers releasing the new numbers and a co-author of the landmark paper: “At least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were lost between 2002-2013....By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the ivory market.”

The results show that the relatively small nation of Gabon has the majority (almost 60 percent) of the remaining forest elephants. Historically, the enormous Democratic Republic of Congo would have held the largest number of forest elephants. 

“The current number and distribution of elephants is mind-boggling when compared to what it should be,” said WCS’s Dr. Samantha Strindberg, one of the co-authors. “About 95 percent of the forests of DRC are almost empty of elephants.”

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