Sumatran elephant now critically endangered
The Sumatran elephant’s conservation status has been elevated from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’ as only 20% of its population remains from 75 years ago.
At the end of 2011, it was reported that only 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants existed. Most of them live outside conservation areas.
Should conservation efforts not be successful, the Sumatran elephant will be completely extinct by the year 2031.
The rapid decrease of the species’ population is attributed to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Their home forests have been cleared and turned to plantations.
Asian elephants in general are distinguished from the African elephant by their smaller size, shorter tusks (or sometimes, no tusks at all), and the single lip at the end of their trunk, as opposed to the two lips found at the trunk end of their African counterpart.
The Sumatran elephant has a lighter skin colour than both the Sri Lankan elephant and the Indian elephant – both of which are currently listed as ‘endangered’.
As the Sumatran elephant’s risk assessment was upgraded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the WWF has called for the Indonesian government to designate large patches of the elephant’s habitat to become protected areas.
WWF director Carlos Drews said, “Unless urgent and effective conservation action is taken these magnificent animals are likely to go extinct within our lifetime.”