The future of the African elephants appears to be bleak. These animals belong to West Africa and the Congo, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN has included them in the revised "Red List" of critically endangered species.

Conservationists warn that the threats come from poaching and loss of habitat. Both of these are man-made. Poachers kill them for their tusks, and man is cutting down the forests in the name of development with scant regard for the environment. The latter disturbs the ecological balance of the region.

To save the elephants, there is a need to redefine the priorities.

IUCN has added the savanna elephants also to the endangered list. This species is the bush elephant. It happens to be the largest land animal. The fate of the elephant population in Africa is a matter of concern. This is because of a decline in their population over the past few decades.

Sky News says the forest elephant population has plummeted by nearly 86 percent over the past three decades. As far as the bush elephant goes, the reduction is almost 60 percent over the past half-century. There has been a drastic fall since 2008. It coincided with an increase in the activities of poachers. They killed the pachyderms for their ivory that had a ready market in the world.

Conservation efforts can help the elephant

In 1989, the international ivory trade was banned. However, the threat to the elephants remained. It reached a peak in 2011. In December 2016, China dealt a deathblow to elephant poaching by shutting down the ivory trade.

Sky News says the number of elephants across Africa could be around 415,000.

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In some places like Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, the numbers have stabilized.

The IUCN attributes this to conservation efforts. As far as the bush elephant numbers go, it has been more or less stable or growing. This is the situation in places like Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. In May 2019, Botswana lifted the elephant-hunting ban, and it sparked international outrage.

Reversing the trend of loss of the elephant

In the opinion of IUCN director-general, Dr. Bruno Oberle - "Africa's elephants play key roles in ecosystems, economies and our collective imagination all over the world."

Sky News mentions that he highlighted the importance of conserving the habitat for the forest and savanna elephants. He adds that some countries in Africa have shown it is possible to reverse elephant declines. Back in May 2017, there was a media report that the African elephant is an endangered species.

One usually associates Africa with elephant safari, where people Travel from far-off places to ride on an elephant and observe wildlife from close quarters. This could become history if there are no elephants around.

It is possible to save the elephant

According to ABC News, the IUCN has attached the critically endangered species to the African forest elephant and the endangered species to the African savanna elephant.

Earlier, they were listed as vulnerable in the Red List. However, they have distinctly different habits. The former live in the tropical forests of Central Africa. The latter thrive in the open country in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is because It has an abundance of grasslands and deserts.

Both species are important to the ecology where they live. An expert on African elephants explains they are important to the ecology because they play vital roles.

Suitable measures can stabilize the population declines.

These could be related to anti-poaching measures, legislation, and planned use of the land. Actions of this nature will help to strike a balance between humans and wildlife. They must coexist with each other.