From Elizabeth Kolbert's Save The Elephants.
Poaching data from Thomson Reuters.
Meanwhile, as disturbing as the recent carnage is, the long-term view is, if anything, worse. Elephants and rhinos are among the last survivors of a once rich bestiary of giants. Australia was home to thirteen-foot-long marsupials. North America had mammoths and mastodons, South America glyptodonts and enormous sloths, Madagascar massive elephant birds and giant lemurs. Before people arrived on the scene, these megafauna were protected by their size; afterward their size became a liability. The giant beasts couldn’t reproduce fast enough to make up for the losses to human hunting, and so, one after another, they vanished. In this sense, what’s happening today in Africa is just the final act of a long-running tragedy.
Mike Chase, an American conservation biologist, is currently conducting an aerial census of Africa’s elephants. He started work on the project in February, when, he told the Huffington Post, he hoped to “leave people inspired and motivated with some good news.” But the opposite has happened. At a reserve in Ethiopia, where his team had expected to find three hundred elephants, they counted just thirty-six. Now, Chase said, “I feel as though the only good I’m doing is recording the extinction of one of the most magnificent animals that ever walked the earth.”
When I read that I felt the need to share. So I did.