Central Africa is "hemorrhaging elephants at an unprecedented scale" primarily due to poaching, a new study finds.
A staggering 62 percent of all forest elephants have been killed for their ivory over the past decade, according to the research.
The report, published today in the journal PLoS ONE, is the first range-wide, data-driven study to confirm what conservationists had already suspected, given so many massacres and individual deaths of these majestic animals in recent months.
The study was the largest ever conducted on the African forest elephant and includes the work of more than 60 scientists between 2002 and 2011, and an immense effort by national conservation staff who spent 91,600 person-days surveying for elephants in five countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo), walking more than 8,000 miles and recording over 11,000 samples for the analysis.
The study's release coincides with the CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting being held in Bangkok until March 14.