Friday, 01 Aug, 2008 Environment
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Elephants Face Extinction By 2020

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Elephants Face Extinction By 2020 Researchers claim that elephants face the risk of extinction as soon as by 2020 that will become a result of high death rate due to poaching.

African elephants are widely killed for their ivory and this tendency seems to continue at a quick pace. University of Washington biologists say that the public is unaware of the dangerous situation with the mammals.

In 1989 the elephants' death rate of 7.4 percent a year led to the international ban on the ivory trade. The recent studies showed that the death rate of African elephants is now 8 percent a year with the fact that the ban is absent today. Taking into account that the fatality rate among elephants 20 years ago was based on a population of more than one million and now elephant population is less than 470,000, the situation becomes marginal.

If the trend continues, there won’t be any elephants except in fenced areas with a lot of enforcement to protect them,” said Samuel Wasser, a UW biology professor, lead author of the research paper.

Scientists warn that today's tendency means that most of the large groups of elephants face extinction by 2020, unless serious measures will be taken.

Wasser developed special DNA techniques to find out the origins of elephant population ivory. These tools could be helpful as often poachers evade the law enforcement, killing the elephants in one country, but shipping the ivory from the neighboring nation. The recent research shows that poachers target specific areas for elephant's ivory. Authorities should consider this information to prevent the major killing of the elephants.

Wasser added that the situation is very serious and public pressure is needed for an international effort to stop the hunting. He explained that the extinction of elephants will lead to major habitat changes. Within a habitat, each depends on other species, contributing to the integrity of the habitat. The disappearance of the elephants will trigger the loss of other species that are adapted to live in these ecosystems.

Researchers said that it is important to concentrate the enforcement in the areas, where elephants come from before their ivory will be brought to a global crime trade network.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service.

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