Tanzania is losing its elephants An African elephant grazes in Tarangire National Park on the outskirts of Arusha, northern Tanzania (AP photos)
Tanzania is losing its elephants
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The sharp decline of the elephant population in the African country of Tanzania, most likely due to poaching, is catastrophic. That's according to a wildlife conservation group.

The Tanzanian government has just estimated that 65,721 elephants died in the country in the last five years. The report showed the number of Tanzanian elephants had plummeted. In 2009, there were an estimated 109,051. By 2014, the number was down to 43,330.

Steve Broad is the executive director of the wildlife conservation group TRAFFIC. He said it is incredible that poaching on such an industrial scale had not been identified and addressed.

The statistics back concerns by TRAFFIC in a 2013 report. The Tanzanian ports of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar also have become main exit points for vast amounts of ivory, the group said in a statement.

At least 45 tons of ivory have flowed from Tanzania to international markets in Asia since 2009. That is according to the conservation group.

It said a breakdown across the country showed some smaller elephant populations had increased. In the famed Serengeti region, the numbers rose from 3,068 to 6,087 animals. However, beyond the most heavily visited tourist locations, elephant numbers were significantly down.

Of particular concern is the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem. Only 8,272 elephants remained in 2014. That is compared to 34,664 in 2009, according to government figures, the statement said.

"Tanzania has been hemorrhaging ivory with Ruaha-Rungwa the apparent epicenter. And nobody seems to have raised the alarm," Broad said. He urged the government to take action to bring the situation under control.

The Tanzanian government says it has added an additional 1,000 rangers to protect wildlife. But Broad said "there is a real risk that it could be a case of too little too late for some elephant populations."

In February, China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports that took immediate effect. The ban came amid criticism that its citizens' huge appetite for ivory has fueled poaching that threatens the existence of African elephants.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is it likely that populations have grown in the heavily visited tourist locations?

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COMMENTS (25)
  • johnj-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    It is likely that populations have grown in the heavily visited tourist locations because most likely not many people poach them there because they are more likely to be caught.

  • kolbyd-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    It is more likely that the population has grown in heavily visited tourists attractions. because it is harder to poach when there are lots of people around.

  • coled-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:24 p.m.

    CTC: The elephant population has grown in tourist areas because you can't kill animals illegally (poach) or at all at a tourist site, thus if you do, you will most likely be fined. And, they've added 1,000 new rangers around the area to protect the wildlife.

  • mattv-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:25 p.m.

    The population of elephants in tourist locations are growing because, people want to preserve the areas where tourists visit, so they are taking massive care of the elephants, and therefore the population can grow very easily since they are not in range of danger.

  • kyleighp-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:25 p.m.

    It is likely that elephant populations have grown in heavily visited tourist location is because the more people there are, the harder it is to smuggle contraband. The contrabrand could be seen,making smuggling it in heavily crowded areas much more riskier.

  • elizabetht-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    Populations of elephants have likely grown in heavily visited areas due to people being there to see so that they know if the elephants are being killed or not. In the more desolate or lone areas of tourism,elephants are down in population due to poachers having an easier time killing elephants, because people don't see what's actually going on.

  • garretta-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:27 p.m.

    CTC: Populations have grown in the heavily visited tourist attractions because, those places are most likely under federal protection, with the most rangers to protect the elephants since the demand for ivory is very high.

  • ethanw-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    Its been increasing because atleast 45 tons of ivory flowed from tanzania to internaturaly markets.

  • calaabj-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    It is likely that elephant population have grown in heavily visited tourist locations is that they have grown a lot because the locations are most likely guarded because of the money that they have guards most likely guard and they might be open from day till night.

  • austing-fel
    8/19/2015 - 02:32 p.m.

    It is likely for the population to grow in heavily visited tourist areas because tourist area has people there so poachers most likely would not hunt for elephants there.

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