African forest elephants are now considered critically endangered, and African savannah elephants endangered, are the Asiatic elephants safe? And are we killing one of the few hopes humanity has? A guide to what remains

The African savannah elephant has declined by 60% over the last 50 years, and the African forest elephant has declined by 86% over the last 31 years.

So how close are these species to disappearing? There are currently 415,000african elephants in the wild, spread across 23 countries.

Unfortunately, their situation is highly different on different parts of the continent. Botswana still supports 130,000 Savanah elephants, while Tanzania lost 60% of their elephants between 2009 and 2014 (though some reserves till have healthy populations), one place hit particularly hard was the Selous which 40 years ago had over 150,000 and currently hosts 15,000 elephants.

While the African forest elephant was only recognized as a separate species in 2021 (there has been much argument about its status), what is not in question is its horrific decline in numbers. Indeed finding a web page that gives you an accurate figure is hard work, This may well because one does not exist. There has been horrific population declines over recent years, and the density is incredibly varied across its range.

Unfortunately one thing is clear, in areas of the Congo rainforest where elephants have lost, the forest does less well. There are many plant species which rely on elephants to carry their seeds from from where they are dropped. As such, without forest elephants we are likely to loose many species of trees – to the extent that it might threaten the survival of the Congo rainforest itself.

African forest elephat

So how are Asiatic elephants doing? Unfortunately not great. There are 5 subspecies

First, the Indian elephant. This is the best known and most wide spread. Currently their Indian population is thought to be between 27,000 and 31,000, with between 10,000 and 14,000 across another 10 countries. While I am listing 4 subspecies these all look relatively similar.

Borneo elephant – the most positive estimate, suggests that there are 1500 remaining in the rainforests of Borneo

Sumatran elephant 2400-2800

Sri Lankan elephant 7500

Syrian elephant – this species was lost as much as 1000 years ago, and occupied the western most part of the Asiatic elephant range.

As such what is clear, is that while African elephant populations are falling fast there is time to check this decline. The Asiatic elephant populations are far more in danger.

The long-tailed macaque was declared to be endangered in march this year, is anything safe

The long-tailed macaque is naturally found throughout southeast Asia. Often seen as pests, these generalists are highly intelligent and can survive on almost any food. As a result they have been considered commodities and therefore have been slaughtered for the bushmeat trade and captured as pets throughout many of the places where they are found.

While still seemingly numerous where they are found, the long-tailed macaque is now an endangered species. Is anything safe?

Even rapidly breeding primates are not going to be able to cope with this sort of pressure for long.

It is perhaps the pet trade that is the greatest danger. As with many other complicated pets long-tailed macaques are hard to look after in captivity and often develop behaviours that are difficult to handle. As a result the demand for their capture continues.

Perhaps of greater concern (for humanity, at least) is the fact that illnesses leak between macaques and humans surprisingly easily. Therefore having large numbers of these animals in captivity, in bad conditions, may well be breeding the next epidemic.

It is clear that the place for long-tailed macaques is in the wild in remaining rainforests, not as pets in wealthy people’s homes.

Can this species be saved? If it can’t there seems little chance for us to save many others, nevertheless as with many other species we must rapidly stop over exploiting this animal before it is gone forever.

There are roughly 50 billion birds in the world but just a few species dominate

Just four birds have a population over a billion, house sparrows European starlings ring-billed gulls and barn swallows.

At the other end, there are over 1180 species with 5000 or less members left.

The last time this survey was done was 24 years ago, the estimate was 200 to 400 billion birds, though it is clear that some of this reduction in numbers will be down to a more accurate survey – still many birds are heading rapidly in the direction of extinction.

The first thing to be done in conservation is to understand the current situation, so this is a great first step. Now the world needs to work hard on conserving what is left – unfortunately this is a rather bigger task. However now we know what needs to be done we merely need to get on with it.

Delacour’s langur is a critically endangered monkey with just 300 of these remain in the wild, but now 80% are protected

Delacour’s langur is a severely endangered primate fewer than 300 of these remain in the wild

Delacour Languars are critically endangered, but their future is slightly more secure

What is gratifying about this situation, is that more than 80% of the remaining langurs live within a community reserve that has been set up by the locals being supported by various conservation bodies particularly in Germany.

This reserve has been recognised in an international survey of protected areas that have done the best work for saving wild species.

Indeed it is a perfect example of what can happen with local conservation. 

Indeed it is these sort of projects that we wish to support through the in the shadow of mankind project that we are running on the website.

Illegal trade in Indonesian leopards is booming

The country of Indonesia consists of many islands. Due to their relative size, these islands have led to many subspecies of animals adapting. 

In the past tigers existed on at least three of these islands. These animals once lived on Java and Bali, but now there is only a small population in Sumatra. 

In Java this leaves the the largest predator population consisting of the leopard – this is why it is so concerning that these leopards are being poached.

Javan Leopards are restricted to the island of Java, so the population is not huge.
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Bushmeat and pet trade in the Congo basin has been known as a problem – now a horrific bonobo trade is coming to light

The bushmeat trade is not a nice industry. As a means of feeding your family in the past it worked – there were far fewer people and therefore the pressure on the wild ecosystem was small.

Wild Bonobo

It is not the case anymore.

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A group of Lawyers supported by several foundations in Washington are fighting to roll back protection for species in the USA

As soon as the election and happened the campaign started. On behalf of cattle ranchers and landowners there’s a determined effort to roll back wildlife protections on threatened species.

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USA has given a hunter permission to bring back body parts of a lion from Tanzania

Up until 2010, hunters in the USA could bring back parts of the lions that they hunted to the USA. Under Obama the import of body parts from African hunts was banned because of their inability to get control of the poaching was going on.

However from the second that Trump came to power, despite giving a message on most things, he has been careful to promote hunting. If you wish to import body parts at the moment, you have to apply for a licence on each occasion.

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