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Welfare at multiple scales: importance of zoo elephant population welfare in a world of declining wild populations

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posted on 2023-05-22, 02:54 authored by Elissa Cameron, Ryan, SJ
In-situ elephant populations have been in decline for much of the last 200 years, driven by an inexorable combination of habitat loss and hunting for ivory, but with more recent and dramatic declines primarily driven by hunting [1]. Consequently, the distribution and sustainability of elephant populations are now better predicted by human factors than ecological ones [2], underscoring the importance of societal factors in the ongoing survival of elephants. Despite growing awareness of the conservation crisis, hunting pressure has not abated. Instead, there has been a recent surge in harvest rates [3,4], more than doubling of harvest since 2007 [5]. The rates are staggering, escalating from an estimated 40,000 African elephants killed in 2011 [4] and 41 tons of ivory seized, to possibly more than 10% of the remaining populations in 2013 (summarised in [6]). In April 2016, the Kenyan Wildlife Service burned the biggest stockpile of ivory since it began burning ivory in 1989, with 105 tonnes of ivory destroyed, representing 6000–7000 poached elephants [7,8]. Similar declines have been seen in forest [3,9] and Asian [10] elephants. The current harvest rate of elephants is unsustainable, creating a conservation crisis of global significance, with an immediate threat to their continued survival [11]. Novel genetic tracing techniques (e.g [6]) and strict anti-poaching law enforcement [5] are vital to conserve the remaining free-ranging elephant populations.

History

Publication title

PLoS One

Volume

11

Issue

7

Article number

e0158701

Number

e0158701

Pagination

1-4

ISSN

1932-6203

Department/School

School of Natural Sciences

Publisher

Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Cameron, Ryan. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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