The number of elephants in the African savanna is in drastic decline, their population having dwindled by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census, the first-ever pan-African survey of savanna elephants. The recently released report  was funded by philanthropist Paul G. Allen.
This extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive effort, which required the participation of 90 scientists doing on-the-ground work in 18 countries, paints a deeply disturbing picture for the future of this iconic species. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of elephants dropped by a startling 144,000. Continent-wide elephant populations are shrinking by eight percent each year. Some of the worst declines are in Angola, Mozambique, and Tanzania. In certain parts of Cameroon and Zambia, elephant populations could be facing local extirpation. In Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region — on the Zambezi River and Lake Kariba north of Hwange National Park — populations are down by a sickening 74 percent.