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Thursday 23 October  
Elephant in Tsavo East National Park in southern Kenya on 31 January 2013
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Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya

Elephants under grave threat

Published on : 25 February 2013 - 6:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Ivan Lieman/AFP)
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Conservationists warn that unless action is taken soon, Africa's iconic herds of elephants could disappear from the landscape.

By Adam Edwards as published by our partner allAfrica

"If we do not turn the situation around quickly, the future of the elephant in Africa is doomed," said Professor Lee White, who heads Gabon's national parks, in an interview with the BBC.

It's a chilling premonition ahead of the 3-14 March meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which controls the world's ivory trade.

Across Africa, elephants are being pushed to the edge of extinction. In Gabon alone, between 44 and 77 percent of the elephants have been killed since 2004, according to research carried out by Gabon's national parks service.

And while the wild populations are falling, Africa's orphanages are filling up.

Calves at the orphanage
On a recent visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on the outskirts of Nairobi, I watched as a herd of tiny calves emerged from the forest, crowding around their keeper. They jostled between each other to get close to him, delicately caressing his bare arms with their trunks. It was such a gentle, tender act that it was hard to believe that just a few weeks ago many of the traumatised calves saw their entire families butchered in front of them.

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But these elephants at the Trust's elephant and rhino orphanage are the lucky ones. Across Africa, thousands of other calves were not so fortunate, killed alongside their mothers or left to starve in a lonely jungle clearing by poachers hoping to cash in on Asia's insatiable demand for ivory.

Read the full article here.

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