In Linyanti Swamp, Botswana, elephant ecologist Mike Chase reports on the alarming drop in the number of African elephants. The drop in elephant numbers has been tied to the high prevalence of poaching. To get at the valuable tusks, poachers would usually hacked off the face of the animal, leaving the carcass to rot in the open.
Chase, the founder of Elephants Without Borders (EWB) and the lead scientist of the Great Elephant Census (GEC) has been trying to combat this problem by taking elephants censuses from the air. Over the span of two years and with the help of 90 scientists and a crew of 286, they have conducted an aerial census in approximately 18 African countries.
Scientists estimated that there were over 20 million elephants in Africa prior to European colonization and 1.3 million by the year 1979. According to the GEC, there is only about 352,271 animals in the 18 countries surveyed. The drastic decline can ultimately result in the localized extinction of the animal as more elephants are dying than being born.
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