NAIROBI: Elephants in Tanzania’s sprawling Selous Game Reserve could be wiped out within six years if poaching continues at current levels, the World Wildlife Fund warned Wednesday.
Tanzania’s largest nature reserve was in the 1970s home to 110,000 elephants, but today only 15,000 remain and they are threatened by “industrial-scale poaching”.
The Selous “could see its elephant population decimated by 2022 if urgent measures are not taken,” the WWF said.
More than 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers every year to supply an illegal trade controlled by criminal gangs that feeds demand in the Far East.
Tanzania is among the worst-affected countries with a recent census saying the country’s elephant population fell by 60 percent in the five years to 2014.
The Selous reserve is a tourist draw contributing an estimated $6 million (5 million euros) a year to Tanzania’s economy, according to a study commissioned by WWF and carried out by advisory firm Dalberg.
It is named after Frederick Selous, a British explorer, hunter and real-life inspiration for the H. Rider Haggard character Allan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mines.
“By early 2022 we could see the last of Selous’ elephants gunned down by heavily armed and well trained criminal networks,” the report said.
WWF Tanzania country director Amani Ngusaru said the Selous’ value, “is dependent on its large wildlife populations and pristine ecosystems.” –APP