The Heartbeat of AFRICEND EARTH: Exploring the Significance and Plight of African Elephants

In the heart of AFRICEND EARTH‘s mission lies a deep reverence for the natural world and its incredible inhabitants. Among these magnificent creatures, the African elephant stands tall, symbolizing the essence of our commitment to conservation and awareness. Have you ever found yourself pondering the reason behind AFRICEND EARTH’s elephant logo? In this journey of discovery, we’ll unravel the profound importance of African elephants and their undeniable connection to our cause.

At first glance, our elephant logo may seem like a simple design choice, but it carries a wealth of significance. The African elephant embodies qualities that resonate with the core values of AFRICEND EARTH – strength, wisdom, harmony, and interconnectedness. By featuring this majestic creature in our logo, we aim to honour its role as a keystone species, a guardian of ecosystems, and a testament to the rich biodiversity of our planet.

The African Elephant Poaching Crisis: A Looming Catastrophe

The illegal wildlife trade, a multi-billion-dollar industry, is wreaking havoc on Earth’s biodiversity and endangering not only animal species but also human well-being. Among the victims of this relentless trade are African elephants, whose populations have plummeted by around 30% since 2006. This decline is intrinsically linked to high rates of illegal elephant killings and the subsequent trafficking of their ivory

Elephants are crucial not only for the beauty they bring to the natural world but also for their role in ecosystem functioning. Their presence supports tourism, contributing to the economies of African nations. However, the brutal reality is that both elephants and those tasked with protecting them, like wildlife rangers, are being sacrificed in this relentless pursuit of profit.

A Comprehensive Approach to Unravelling Poaching

A recent study published on January 11, 2023, in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B delves into the depths of this crisis, shedding light on the myriad factors that drive and facilitate the illegal killing of elephants across 64 sites in 30 African countries. Led by Timothy Kuiper and a team of researchers, the study applies criminology theory and rigorous empirical analysis to unearth the underlying dynamics of this grave issue.

Addressing the elephant poaching crisis requires understanding the intricacies of the problem, from the motivations of key actors to the contextual factors that enable these crimes. The study by Kuiper et al. takes a comprehensive approach, employing insights from criminology to generate hypotheses about the drivers and facilitators of elephant poaching. By analysing data on 10,286 illegally killed elephants detected at 64 sites across Africa between 2002 and 2020, the researchers rigorously tested these hypotheses .

Key Findings: What Drives Elephant Poaching?

The study uncovers a range of factors that influence the illegal killing of elephants:

  1. Poor National Governance: The quality of governance at the national level has a profound impact on poaching rates. Countries with weaker governance structures are more susceptible to elephant poaching.
  2. Low Law Enforcement Capacity: Sites with limited law enforcement capabilities are particularly vulnerable to poaching. The absence of effective enforcement mechanisms creates an environment conducive to illegal activities.
  3. Household Wealth and Health: Local socio-economic conditions play a significant role. Sites with lower household wealth and health indicators are more likely to experience higher rates of elephant poaching.
  4. Global Elephant Ivory Prices: The demand for elephant ivory, as reflected in global ivory prices, directly influences poaching rates. Higher ivory prices stimulate increased illegal killing.
  5. Elephant Species Variation: Forest elephant populations are more susceptible to poaching than their savannah counterparts. This underscores the need for targeted conservation efforts for distinct elephant species.
  6. Armed Conflict: While evidence for a direct link between armed conflict and poaching is weak, sites experiencing more intense conflict tend to have higher rates of elephant poaching.
  7. Other Factors: Surprisingly, factors like site accessibility, vegetation density, elephant population density, precipitation, and site area showed no substantial correlation with poaching rates.


Understanding and Mitigating Elephant Poaching: Insights from Comprehensive Analysis

Elephant poaching for ivory remains a grave concern across Africa, driven by factors ranging from governance issues to market demand. A recent study by Hauenstein et al. underscored associations between elephant killing and poverty, corruption, and ivory prices. However, our study offers a more nuanced perspective, employing advanced methodologies and a broader dataset to uncover the complex dynamics behind this illegal trade. We explored the impact of national governance, local human development, law enforcement, and ivory prices on elephant poaching across 30 countries.

Unveiling the Role of Governance and Human Development

Our findings offer robust support for the hypothesis that strong national governance and higher levels of local human development contribute to mitigating elephant poaching. Improved governance fosters accountability and transparency, reducing opportunities for corruption and illegal trade. Similarly, higher local human development, encompassing health and wealth indicators, acts as a deterrent against resorting to poaching due to economic necessity. Our analysis went beyond infant mortality rates to directly gauge household wealth, thereby enhancing the precision of our conclusions.

Law Enforcement as a Key Factor

Enhancing law enforcement capacity emerged as a crucial aspect of curtailing elephant poaching. Sites with stronger law enforcement exhibited lower rates of illegal killing. This underscores the need for increased patrols, apprehensions, and deterrence to thwart poaching syndicates. While acknowledging potential limitations in estimating law enforcement capacity, our results consistently emphasize its positive impact.

Market Demand and Ivory Price

The link between market demand and illegal wildlife trade is well-documented, and our study confirms the hypothesis that escalating ivory prices spur higher incentives for poaching. Though price isn’t a direct gauge of demand, it serves as a reliable proxy. However, the intricacies of this relationship merit further exploration, considering potential reciprocal effects and market dynamics. Recent analyses also hint at complex interplays between price and ivory demand, underscoring the necessity for multi-faceted investigations.

Challenging Traditional Assumptions

Our study challenges certain prevailing assumptions. Contrary to earlier work, we observed a positive correlation between education levels and illegal killing. This necessitates comprehensive site-level research to delve into causal relationships. Additionally, our research highlights the compelling influence of forest elephants facing higher rates of illegal killing compared to savannah elephants. The reasons behind this phenomenon encompass geographical variations, demand dynamics, and habitat-related challenges.

Impact of Orphaning on African Elephant Population Growth


A recent study by Jenna M. Parker et al. highlights the profound repercussions of orphaning on the population growth of African elephants. The study, conducted in Kenya and based on 19 years of individual-based demographic data, delves into the intricate dynamics of maternal care, orphan survival, and the broader implications for the species. The findings reveal that the effects of orphaning extend far beyond the immediate survival of orphaned individuals, significantly influencing the overall growth of elephant populations.

Maternal Care and Orphan Survival

Maternal care is critical for the well-being of long-lived mammals, even after offspring have been weaned. Orphaning, or the premature loss of maternal care, can diminish the survival chances of young elephants, impacting their ability to thrive in the wild. The study identifies that orphaned elephants, particularly dependent calves aged 0-2 years and juveniles aged 3-8 years, exhibit lower survival rates compared to their nonorphan counterparts. This discrepancy in survival rates emphasizes the importance of maternal care and its lasting impact on elephant populations.

Indirect Effects on Population Growth

The study’s most significant revelation is the indirect influence of orphaning on elephant population growth. Beyond the immediate loss of individuals, the reduced survival rates of orphaned elephants have broader implications for the entire population. The population growth rate was found to be inversely correlated with the probability of orphaning and positively correlated with orphan survival. This demonstrates that adult elephant deaths not only directly impact population size but also indirectly influence growth through the increased likelihood of orphaning.

Poaching and Orphaning

The study further explores the interaction between poaching and orphaning. Periods of heightened poaching lead to a larger number of orphans within the population. Interestingly, during such periods, the survival of young adult orphans (aged 9-18) becomes comparable to that of nonorphans due to the increased vulnerability of younger adults to poaching. This finding highlights the intricate interplay between human activities, environmental conditions, and the survival prospects of orphaned elephants.

Conservation Implications

Understanding the multifaceted effects of orphaning on elephant populations has profound implications for conservation efforts. The study underscores that combatting poaching and reducing adult elephant deaths is not only crucial for immediate population protection but also for mitigating the indirect consequences of orphaning on population growth. It emphasizes the necessity of comprehensive conservation strategies that consider both direct and indirect impacts on species dynamics.


African Elephants: The Numbers

Animal censuses play a pivotal role in conservation efforts, serving as vital tools to assess population trends and distributions across different habitats and time periods. In the context of African elephants, these censuses hold exceptional importance due to the rampant illegal wildlife trafficking crisis. A recent study, based on data collected by multiple conservation organizations including AWF, indicates that a staggering 65 percent of all forest elephants have been killed for their ivory over the last ten years.

A prime example of the impact of such censuses is the 2014 elephant census conducted in the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania, which boasts one of the largest elephant populations in East Africa. The census, conducted in collaboration with AWF partners and at the request of the Tanzanian government, revealed a shocking 67 percent decline in the reserve’s elephant population since 2010. The estimated elephant count plummeted to 13,683, a significant drop from the 110,000 elephants recorded just three decades earlier.

The process of counting elephants in Namibia has stirred some controversy, as doubts arose about the accuracy of the country’s official estimates. Speculations suggested that the actual elephant population might be significantly lower than reported figures, with some estimating it to be closer to 5,600, just a fraction of the official count. Accusations also circulated that Namibia chose not to participate in the Great Elephant Census (GEC) to potentially inflate their elephant numbers for hidden motives.

However, the reality contradicts these assumptions. Namibia’s aerial surveys were conducted concurrently with the GEC in other nations, including 2014 and 2015. These surveys followed a similar methodology, involving the transect sample method, and the data collected were submitted to the African Elephant Database managed by the IUCN’s African Elephant Specialist Group. Independent experts from the Specialist Group evaluated the results, including those from Namibia, leading to the 2016 African Elephant Status Report. This report highlighted Namibia’s increasing elephant population, notably in the north-east regions, estimating it to be 22,754 ± 4,305.

Namibia’s exclusion from the GEC’s separate publication was due to their self-funded surveys and confidence in their surveyors’ ability to uphold high standards. They contributed their data to the African Elephant Database through their IUCN membership. The recent 2019 aerial surveys, commissioned by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), provided updated elephant population estimates for different regions in Namibia.

The Khaudum survey estimated 7,999 ± 3,028 elephants, while the Zambezi survey counted 12,008 ± 2,598 elephants. The Etosha National Park survey in 2015 recorded 2,911 ± 697 elephants, and the 2016 north-west estimate was 1,173 ± 681. Combining these estimates conservatively approximated the whole Namibian elephant population at 24,091 ± 4,107 in 2019.

Contrary to the claims of a mere 5,600 elephants, observers’ datasheets from these surveys debunk such notions. During the surveys, a fraction of the total area yielded sightings of 10,051 elephants. Consistent survey methods, employed since 1994, provide robust population trends. Notably, trends indicated a biologically realistic annual growth rate of 5.36% from 1995 to 2016, demonstrating Namibia’s commitment to effective elephant conservation.

Source: Namibia and the Great Elephant Census (GEC)

The Great Elephant Census revealed that a total of 352,271 elephants were counted across 18 observed African countries, indicating a 30% population decrease between 2007 and 2014, equating to approximately 144,000 elephants. The annual decline of 8% is primarily attributed to poaching. Among these, 84% were found in protected regions while 16% were in non-protected areas. Notably, the presence of elephant skeletons in protected regions underscores the jeopardy elephants face in both types of areas. The initiative was pioneered by Paul G. Allen and Elephants Without Borders, with support from various local and global organizations including SANParks, Frankfurter Zoologische Gesellschaft, The Nature Conservancy, and Wildlife Conservation Society. (

Translocation – A Possible Solution to Save The African Elephant Population

In an effort to save African elephants, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) successfully translocated 263 elephants from one of Malawi’s smallest parks to Kasungu National Park, resulting in a healthier elephant population and a boost in tourism within one year.

The translocation, supported by IFAW’s Combating Wildlife Crime project, aimed to stabilize and increase elephant populations by countering poaching and promoting coexistence with humans. The project not only restored Kasungu’s wildlife but also empowered local communities through various initiatives. Ongoing efforts, including the construction of electrified fencing, community outreach, and monitoring elephant movements, demonstrate the positive impact of science-guided conservation strategies. This initiative aligns with IFAW’s broader Room to Roam initiative, which focuses on creating interconnected landscapes to support wildlife and human coexistence.

Taking Action to Save African Elephants: How You Can Make a Difference

Africa’s majestic elephants are facing a critical threat – poaching and habitat loss are pushing these gentle giants towards the brink of extinction. While the challenge may seem daunting, there are meaningful ways that each of us, as ordinary individuals, can contribute to their conservation. By taking action collectively, we can help ensure a future where African elephants continue to roam freely and thrive in their natural habitats. Here are some steps you can take to make a difference:

1. Raise Awareness: Spread the word about the critical situation facing African elephants. Use social media, blogs, and conversations to educate your friends and family about the importance of elephant conservation, the threats they face, and the need for collective action. This is the reason for AFRICEND EARTH

2. Support Conservation Organizations: Many organizations are working tirelessly to protect elephants. Consider supporting reputable organizations like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, and WWF, which are actively involved in elephant conservation efforts.

3. Say No to Ivory: Refrain from purchasing ivory products, as the demand for ivory fuels the illegal poaching trade. Choose to support sustainable alternatives, such as synthetic materials or handmade crafts that don’t harm wildlife.

4. Choose Responsible Tourism: If you plan to visit regions where elephants reside, opt for responsible wildlife tourism. Choose tour operators and sanctuaries that prioritize the well-being of animals and their habitats over profit.

5. Engage with Decision-Makers: Write letters or emails to your local representatives, urging them to support policies that protect elephants and their habitats. Your voice can help create positive change at a governmental level.

6. Fundraise: Organize fundraising events in your community to raise funds for elephant conservation projects. This could be a charity walk, a bake sale, or an educational workshop to inform others about the challenges elephants face.

7. Support Community Efforts: Recognize the vital role local communities play in elephant conservation. Support initiatives that provide alternatives to poaching and promote coexistence between humans and elephants.

8. Shop Ethically: Choose to buy products from brands that are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. This includes avoiding products that contribute to habitat destruction or the exploitation of elephants.

9. Educate Yourself: Learn more about elephants, their behaviors, and their habitats. Understanding their ecological importance and social dynamics will help you become a better advocate for their protection.

10. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Climate change is impacting elephant habitats. By adopting eco-friendly habits like reducing waste, conserving energy, and supporting renewable energy sources, you indirectly contribute to preserving their environments.

11. Donate: Every contribution counts, no matter how small. Donating to reputable conservation organizations or wildlife sanctuaries can provide critical resources to protect elephants.

12. Be a Responsible Consumer: Make conscious choices when purchasing products made from natural resources found in elephant habitats, such as palm oil. Choose products that are certified sustainable and support efforts to protect wildlife and ecosystems.

African elephants are not just icons of the wild; they are a crucial part of ecosystems that support biodiversity and balance. By taking these steps and inspiring others to join in, you can become a valuable ally in the fight to secure a brighter future for these magnificent creatures. Let’s work together to ensure that generations to come can witness the beauty of African elephants in their natural habitats.

The Sentience of Elephants: Guardians of a Balanced World

In the heart of the African savannah, a scene unfolds that is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching – a family of elephants, close-knit and bonded, moving together as one. These majestic beings, giants of the animal kingdom, are not mere creatures; they are sentient beings with emotions, intellect, and a profound capacity to feel pain and love, much like us.

A Family’s Love and Loss

Elephants have long been known to exhibit complex social behaviors and emotions. They form strong family units, led by wise matriarchs, and rely on each other for support and protection. The close connections they share within their families are undeniable, and witnessing a mother elephant tenderly caring for her young is a testament to their deep emotional bonds.

But alongside the heart warming moments, there is a shadow that looms over their existence – the relentless threat of poaching. When an elephant family member is killed, the pain reverberates through the entire group. These sentient beings grieve, mourn, and mourn together, a stark reminder that the loss of a loved one is a universal feeling that transcends species.

And also, they were alive when the poachers started to cut off their faces” – Celine Sissler-Bienvenu.

Source: IFAW

Guardians of the Circle of Life

The presence of elephants is not just a matter of sentiment; it is crucial for the balance of ecosystems and the health of our planet. As nature’s gardeners, elephants play a pivotal role in shaping their habitats. They help disperse seeds, clear pathways through forests, and create water holes that sustain an array of life. Their influence ripples through the delicate web of life, ensuring biodiversity and maintaining a healthy environment.



In a world facing environmental challenges and an urgent need for conservation, the protection of elephants is not just an ethical imperative, but a matter of ecological necessity. A world without these sentient beings would be a darker place, devoid of their wisdom, their beauty, and their profound impact on the landscape. What we are doing to them under our watch is nothing short of brutal criminality and it must stop. Those countries supporting the ivory trade need to cease this immediately. We share this planet with elephants and are not here to destroy them.

It falls upon us, the stewards of this planet, to recognize the value of elephants as sentient beings who enrich our lives and sustain the environment. By curbing poaching, protecting their habitats, and fostering coexistence, we can ensure that these remarkable creatures continue to thrive. Their presence is a beacon of hope, reminding us that we are part of a vast interconnected web of life – a web that flourishes when we safeguard all its threads, from the smallest insects to the mightiest elephants.

Let us stand as guardians of these sentient beings, protectors of their families, and champions of the balance they bring to our world. Only through our collective actions can we ensure that a future without elephants remains a darkness we never have to face.