Africa's elephants rapidly declining as poaching thrives

PHOTO: African Elephant - Amboseli National Park, Kenya., Photo Date: July 27, 2008 - Cropped Photo: JULIAN MASON / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

HONOLULU (AP) - The results of a new survey show a rapid decline in Africa's savanna elephants as international and domestic ivory trades drive poaching across the continent.

Researchers with the Great Elephant Census, a comprehensive survey funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen, say Africa's savanna elephant population plummeted by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 and is declining at about 8 percent a year.

The aerial survey covered 18 countries using dozens of airplanes to fly the equivalent of going to the moon and partway back. The study, involving 90 scientists, estimated a population of 352,271 savanna elephants.

Overall, researchers spotted about 12 carcasses for every 100 live elephants, indicating poaching at a high enough level to cause population decline. But the rates were much higher than that in some countries.