By Emebet Demeke
Poaching and illegal trafficking are the major threats to the conservation of many wildlife species globally. Elephant, cheetah, leopard, rhino and lion are some of the key wildlife species targeted.
According to World Wildlife Fund, African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago to about 415,000 today.
In recent years, at least 20,000 elephants are killed in Africa annually for their tusks, with African forest elephants taking the most hits.
In Ethiopia elephants are found in Gambella, Omo, Mago, Chebera Churchura, Gura Ferda, area, Kfta Sheraro, Babile, Geralle, Dabus, Altash and among other areas. Unfortunately, they are the most poached wild animals according to analysis by IFAW.
Today, the country has lost 90% of its elephant population in the past years mainly due to the ever increasing demand for ivory.
Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) has formulated a wildlife protection project to end ivory poaching and trafficking. It also launched sniff dog control to curb trafficking of animal products.
Babile Elephant Sanctuary is one of the country’s most important elephant-protecting areas but according to officials, the park staff is always truggling to secure the sanctuary. Park rangers have been killed by poachers in their line of duty and poachers calculate and attack during the holidays when the parks are less protected.
Climate change also leads lack of water for food thus elephants flee from their habitats. The inevitable human-elephant conflict also threatens the elephant populations. These among other factors could eventually lead to the extinction of African elephants.
If this continues, we will miss the elephant’s contribution to ecosystem. To protect our future we have to protect wild animals including elephants!