"The results of these simulations are not surprising. They are very similar to the annual figure of 35,000 that was estimated by conservationists and cited by US Fish and Wildlife Service for the number killed in 2012," says Keith Lindsay, a biologist at the Amboseli Trust for Elephants who was not involved in this research, in an email to The Dodo. "This figure was disputed by pro-trade apologists, it should be noted, but it is now supported by the current study."
Ten years ago, poaching caused 25 percent of all elephant deaths; since then, poachers are responsible for 60 to 70 percent of elephant deaths. A significant portion of the demand for ivory is fueled by the Chinese black market, though China is attempting to crack down on the illegal trade, the BBC reports.
Certain local elephant populations - in Botswana, for example - are increasing, points out study co-author Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants. But the overall trend paints a grim picture: "History has taught us that numbers alone are no defense against attrition from the ivory trade, and this new work confirms that elephant numbers are decreasing in East, Central and Southern Africa."