Elephant population trends in GEC landscapes over the past ten years based on GEC data and comparable previous surveys (methodology in Chase et al. 2016). Red landscapes declining >5%/year, orange declining 2-5%/year, yellow declining or increasing <2%/year, pale green increasing 2-5%/year, dark green increasing >5%/year. 

Tanzania and Mozambique’s elephants experienced staggering population declines, and the same appears to be true with Angola. Elephant populations are on the verge of local extinction in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Cameroon and southwest Zambia. In the face of poaching and encroachment, small herds were isolated and searching for safety. The Babile Elephant Sanctuary in Ethiopia, overwhelmed by human settlement, was lacking its own namesake.

South Africa, Uganda, parts of Malawi and Kenya, and the W-Arli-Pendjari (WAP) conservation complex of protected areas that span Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso were found to have stable or even slightly increasing elephant populations. Although in some cases, such as Uganda and WAP, relatively high carcass ratios or estimates of the percentage of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) suggest this may be due in part to compression of elephants into the parks from surrounding areas. In the WAP complex, the population has doubled since the last count in 2003. With the last large population of savanna elephants in West Africa, WAP may merit greater conservation attention and investment.

Zambia and Zimbabwe showed wide internal variation in population status in different parts of the country, with parks adjacent to countries with poor elephant protection (e.g. Angola) and those with no NGO presence faring badly but populations stable or increasing in parks further from trouble spots. 




Areas in suitable habitat which, if searched with reasonable intensity, are likely to yield signs of elephant presence. If no information is obtained confirming the presence of elephants for a 10 year period, KNOWN range is downgraded to POSSIBLE range.


Areas where there are reasons to believe that elephants are no longer present, but which have not been formally surveyed. If further corroborative evidence is obtained, areas of DOUBTFUL range are reclassified as NON-RANGE. As with POSSIBLE range, areas of DOUBTFUL range are a priority for absence/presence studies. 


Areas within historical range and in suitable habitat where there are no negative data to rule out the presence of elephants, including former areas of KNOWN range where the source information is more than 10 years old. Areas of POSSIBLE range are considered to be a priority for studies to establish the presence or absence of elephants.

Courtesy of IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group