Research: If there is no ivory trade, African elephants can have a lot of habitat

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Research: If there is no ivory trade, African elephants can have a lot of habitat

The sharp reduction in the scope of elephant activities is caused by stealing Hunters hunted elephants for ivory and humans encroached on elephant habitats. The evidence that the ivory trade led to a sharp decline in the number of elephants in certain areas can be traced back to the ancient Roman period, but since the 17th century, as European merchants and colonists who met the demand for ivory came to Africa, the number of elephants reached a new level. . Ivory poaching is still a serious threat to elephants. In the past decade, ivory poaching has led to a decline in the number of African elephants.

If released from this threat, elephants still have great potential for recovery in areas with the smallest human footprints.

Researcher Wittemyer said: “If we can reverse the situation and curb the continued decline in the number of African elephants, this work highlights the huge potential for expanding the distribution and number of elephants in Africa’s natural habitat.”< /p>

This study found that 62% of Africa (more than 18 million square kilometers, larger than Russia) still has habitat suitable for elephants. In this huge area, humans and elephants still have room for peaceful coexistence. They may live there, but conflicts with people may make it unrealistic.

The research team used GPS tracking collars and satellite imagery data to investigate where and why the elephants roamed. By observing the extreme environment in which modern elephants live, they learned where elephants might live today.

“We studied every square kilometer of the African continent,” said Jake Wall, the lead author of the study and the research and conservation director of the Mara Elephant Project in Kenya. “We found Of the 29.2 million square kilometers of land, 62% are suitable habitats.”

In order to analyze the acceptability of these habitats on the entire African continent, Wall and his colleagues used Save the Elephants and its partners have installed GPS tracking collar data on 229 elephants across Africa over a 15-year period.

Research: If there is no ivory trade, African elephants can have a lot of habitat(1)

Researchers use satellite imagery to calculate The platform Google Earth Engine checked the vegetation, tree cover, surface temperature, rainfall, water, slope, overall human impact and protected areas of the area where the elephants passed. This allows them to determine which habitats can feed elephants and the extreme environments they can currently tolerate.

In the future, the goal of the research team is to further improve the model of human influence density so that it is suitable for the coexistence of humans and elephants, and at the same time include the connectivity between the habitat and other areas in the elephant’s range among them.

It is understood that large areas of potential habitat include the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The forests of these two countries have recently lived with hundreds of thousands of elephants, but it is now estimated that there are only 10,000 at most.

The study also highlighted extreme habitats that African elephants have not visited.

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Founder of Save the Elephants Iain Douglas-Hamilton pointed out: “The main no-entry areas include the Sahara, Danakil and Kalahari deserts, as well as urban centers and mountain tops. This gives us an idea of ​​the range of elephants in the past. However, about the end of the Roman era. Until the arrival of the first European colonists, the status of African elephants lacked relevant information.”

The main predator of adult elephants in the wild is humans. Elephants will try their best to stay away from human activities and influences. Usually live in a protected area.

Douglas-Hamilton said: “Elephants can quickly identify dangers and find safer places.”

Tracking data shows the range of activities of elephants living in protected areas. They are often smaller, probably because they feel unsafe to operate on unprotected land.

The study found that 57% of elephants currently operate outside the protected area, highlighting the limited space reserved for their safety. In order to ensure the long-term survival of elephants, protect elephant habitats and protect elephants from illegal hunting and the ethics of coexistence of humans and elephants will be crucial.