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African Elephant Database (AED)/IUCN/SSC African Elephant
Specialist Group (AfESG)
Uploaded on Monday 11 Mar 2013
African elephant range and population density
Riccardo Pravettoni, GRID-Arendal
While poaching is an immediate and direct threat to the African
elephant, range and habitat loss are the most significant longterm threat to the species’ survival.
There is good reason to believe that the total elephant range in
Africa has been in decline over the last two decades. In 1995,
the total range area of the African elephant was estimated
at 26 per cent of the continent’s total land cover (Said et al.
1995). However, the latest African Elephant Status Report,
published in 2007, estimated that the total range area was
15 per cent of total
land cover (Blanc et al. 2007). Most of this
reduction in range area reflects better information rather than
range loss, however it also reflects the actual reduction in range due to habitat encroachment, increased human population
densities, urban expansion, agricultural development, deforestation and infrastructure development. While countries in
Central and West Africa have likely experienced real reduction
in elephant range, other countries such as Botswana have experienced an increase in elephant range in recent years (Blanc et al. 2007; Craig in Blanc et al. 2002).