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).
From collection: Elephants in the Dust - The African Elephant Crisis