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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Liberia has Lost 95 Percent of its Elephants to Poachers

by David DeFranza
forest elephant photo
Liberia is home to African forest elephants, like those seen here. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Since civil war broke out in Liberia in the 1980s, 19,000 elephants have been killed by poachers. Today, only 1,000 elephants remain, meaning the country has lost 95 percent of its elephants in only a few decades.
Across Africa, elephant populations have dropped precipitously since the end of the 20th century, when it was estimated that elephants numbered between 5 and 10 million. Today, only an estimated 400,000 remain.
Patrick Omondi of the Kenya Wildlife Service commented that:
Though, Liberia opposes trade in ivory, but, the trade is still being illegally practiced in the country. This trade is having negative impact on your resources, therefore, we all need to join efforts to conserve your wildlife resources
Established by free American slaves in the early 1820s, the small country in West Africa is known for its biological diversity. Unfortunately, a series of civil wars—from 1980 to 2003—left much of these rich natural resources unprotected. Timber harvesting—which was used to fund armies in the conflict—went completely unchecked, leading to massive habitat loss and degradation across Liberia.

Currently, Liberia is in the process of reactivating its membership in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)—an essential step towards joining the international campaign against poaching.