There are two main groups of elephants left on Earth: African elephants and Asian elephants. Both face serious threats to their long-term survival, although the risks vary widely from place to place. Scientists classify all Asian elephants as a single species, and while the same is often done with African elephants, genetic evidencesuggestsAfrica really has two separate species: savanna elephants and forest elephants.
Asian elephantsare endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which listsAfrican elephantsas vulnerable. Several million African elephants roamed across the continent as recently as the early 20th century, but today only about 350,000 remain. Asian elephants were less abundant to begin with, reportedly numbering about 200,000 a century ago, giving them even less of a buffer against population declines. There are now fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, raising the specter of extinction unless something can be done to save them.
Threats to Elephants
The main threat to both Asian and African elephants is a familiar one for wildlife around the world: loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Many elephants also face additional dangers, though, including both direct and indirect conflict with people.
Habitat Loss and Fragmentation
Conflict With Humans
All elephants need lots of water, a thirst that drives much of their migratory behavior and daily activities. The need for water can already be a big challenge for elephants even under normal circumstances, but as the climate crisis fuels longer, drier droughts in many places, it can become all but impossible to find enough. This threat is also compounded as their habitats shrink and splinter, since thirsty elephants now have even fewer options for undeveloped places to find water.
Many elephant populations plummeted last century due to unsustainable hunting, largely fueled by demand for their ivory tusks. And while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the international trade of ivory in 1989, legal ivory markets have remained in some countries, enabled by a resurgent black market and well-armed gangs of poachers. Poaching can threaten elephants almost anywhere, but most illegal ivory currently comes from African elephants, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where thousands of elephants are killed by poachers every year.
Aside from being intelligent, charismatic, and iconic, elephants are also important keystone species who shape and sustain the ecosystems around them. Many people around the world arededicated to preserving these ancient creatures; here are a few of their top priorities:
由于大象的主要威胁是栖息地的丧失，是有意义的重点我们的保护还剩下些什么自然环境的保护工作。少非洲大象栖息地的20％以上是在正规的保护，根据世界自然基金会，而亚洲平均为大象的70％被发现保护区之外。对于大，迁徙的动物，如大象，关键是不只是保护栖息地的孤立的，而且这些链接进入口袋large-scale wildlife corridors。在印度和尼泊尔，例如，特莱弧景观项目的目的是重新连接的，其中亚洲象生活12个保护区链。
Although poaching of African elephants has略有下降因为一个高峰2011, it remains a significant danger, especially combined with the many other threats facing elephant populations. Wild elephants need legal protection as well as parks and rangers with resources to enforce those laws, but it will be difficult to stop poaching without also addressing the demand for ivory that drives it. That is another focus for conservationists, who scored an important victory in 2017 when China ended its legal ivory trade. As a consumer, anyone can support the effort to save elephants simply by never buying anything containing ivory.