New elephant population numbers have been released at a wildlife conference in London this week, and it doesn't look good for elephants. The data shows that sixty-five percent of the world's forest elephants have been slaughtered by poachers over the last 12 years -- a figure that amounts to a baffling nine percent of the population annually.
Forest elephants, living mostly in Central and West Africa in the Congo rainforest, are a distinct genetic species from savannah elephants, but they are still threatened by the same things -- most notably, poaching and the ivory trade.
"At least a couple of hundred thousand forest elephants were lost between 2002-2013 to the tune of at least sixty a day, or one every twenty minutes, day and night," said Fiona Maisels, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to Mongabay [Warning: Link contains disturbing images]. "By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the ivory market."
According to researchers, the countries forest elephants live in, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, are crippled by poverty and corruption -- tough challenges for conservation.