Forest Elephant Crisis in the Congo Basin

PLoS Biology, 5(4), 2007

Stephen Blake, Samantha Strindberg, Patrick Boudjan, Calixte Makombo, Inogwabini Bila-Isia, Omari Ilambu, Falk Grossmann, Lambert Bene-Bene, Bruno de Semboli, Valentin Mbenzo, Dino S’hwa, Rosine Bayogo, Liz Williamson, Mike Fay, John Hart, and Fiona Maisels

“Debate over repealing the ivory trade ban dominates conferences of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Resolving this controversy requires accurate estimates of elephant population trends and rates of illegal killing. Most African savannah elephant populations are well known; however, the status of forest elephants, perhaps a distinct species, in the vast Congo Basin is unclear. We assessed population status and incidence of poaching from line-transect and reconnaissance surveys conducted on foot in sites throughout the Congo Basin.

Interpolated Elephant Dung Count and Human-Sign Frequency across the Ndoki-Dzanga MIKE Site

Interpolated Elephant Dung Count and Human-Sign Frequency across the Ndoki-Dzanga MIKE Site

“Results indicate that the abundance and range of forest elephants are threatened from poaching that is most intense close to roads. The probability of elephant presence increased with distance to roads, whereas that of human signs declined. At all distances from roads, the probability of elephant occurrence was always higher inside, compared to outside, protected areas, whereas that of humans was always lower. Inside protected areas, forest elephant density was correlated with the size of remote forest core, but not with size of protected area. Forest elephants must be prioritised in elephant management planning at the continental scale.”