Ivory Coast without ivory: Massive extinction of African forest elephants in Côte d’Ivoire

Oct 26, 2020 | Studies

By Jean-Louis Kouakou ,Sery Gonedelé Bi  ,Eloi Anderson Bitty ,Célestin Kouakou ,Alphonse Kouassi Yao ,Kouadio Bénoîtype Kassé ,Soulemane Ouattara – Plos One


In pre-colonial and colonial times Côte d’Ivoire probably hosted one of the largest elephant populations in West Africa, resulting in the country’s name Côte d’Ivoire (in English Ivory Coast) by French settlers. Numbers declined and by the early 90s it was estimated that the total number of both savannah and forest elephants had reached 63 to 360 elephants in the entire country. Here we present updated information on the distribution and conservation status of forest elephant in Côte d’Ivoire based on multiple sources—dung counts on line transects, records of human–elephant conflict, media reports, sign and interview surveys—obtained during the period 2011–2017. We used Pearson correlation to determine the correlation between the presence of forest elephant and site variables (size of the forest, percentage of area converted into plantation, size of the forest left, size of human population inside the PA, poaching index, distance to the nearest road, population density in the Department, level of protection of the PA). To examine the effect of ecological traits on elephant extirpation, we used Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to check for multicollinearity among variables. Based on dung count elephant presence was confirmed in only 4 of the 25 protected areas surveyed. PAs with higher level of protection have higher probability to be home of elephant population. The viability of these populations is uncertain, since they have a small size and are isolated. Aggressive conservation actions including law enforcement for the protection of their remaining habitat and ranger patrolling are needed to protect the remaining forest elephant populations.

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