Today, the African savannah elephant and African forest elephant were listed as separate species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for the first time. The savannah elephant is now listed as Endangered and the forest elephant is now listed as Critically Endangered. African elephants were previously treated as a single species and listed as Vulnerable.
Responding, Mary Molokwu-Odozi, Fauna & Flora International’s Country Manager, Liberia, said:
"Africa’s two elephant species are among the best-known, the most awe-inspiring creatures on this planet. They have faced a variety of threats for many decades and it is sadly no surprise today to see the savannah elephant officially listed as ‘endangered’ and the forest elephant listed as ‘critically endangered.’
Poaching for the illegal trade in ivory and loss of habitat are two of the key drivers of decline and today’s announcement by the IUCN must inspire a clearer focus on what we need to do to protect two species that are not just admired and loved the world over, but are also keystones of the vital ecosystems to which they belong.
There is hope. We know what to do to protect elephants. In the case of critically endangered forest elephants, there is an urgent need to work with communities to guarantee secure corridors so that elephants – transboundary creatures that often move across several countries in the course of their migrations – can move safely between habitats. It can be done, so today must be a wake-up call. We must not let the elephant become a creature that our grandchildren only know from stories. We need to safeguard their future, now."
The African elephant is the largest living land mammal and is found predominantly in eastern, southern and western Africa.