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IUCN's Ivory Trade Vote Highlights Forest Elephants' Precarious Position

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IUCN's Ivory Trade Vote Highlights Forest Elephants' Precarious Position

2016-09-09 15:28:16

According to Science News, the fate of Africa’s elephants may be decided before the weekend is out. Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress will decide on Motion 7 this week in Honolulu. If passed, it would call on the IUCN to encourage governments to shut down the ivory trade — and provide help in doing so. The hope is that ending the demand for ivory — and with it the large-scale elephant poaching that has been going on for more than a decade. In turn, this would allow both savannah and forest elephants to recover. Because it has taken a long time to recognize that forest elephants are their own species, there isn’t a lot of basic biology known about them. Biologically the two species of African elephants are fairly similar, but forest elephants have slowed down their reproduction. Female forest elephants can conceive when they are as young as 10 years — but most don’t. And forest elephants breed only once every five to six years, compared with every three or four in savannah elephants. This means that a population of forest elephants would double in size at less than half the rate as savannah elephants.

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