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Elephants at Risk

CLOSE ENCOUNTER Two African forest elephants have a bath in the Central African Republic in April 2019. The species is critically endangered. FLORNET VERGNES—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

African elephants are becoming more endangered. That’s according to a March 25 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The group determines how likely animals are to become extinct.

There are two species of African elephant. Savanna elephants roam grasslands. Forest elephants live in the woods.

Over the past 50 years, the savanna elephant population has fallen by 60%. The IUCN lists the animal as endangered. The forest elephant population has fallen by more than 86% over 31 years. These animals are critically endangered.

The last time the IUCN looked at African elephants was in 2008. Back then, they were listed as vulnerable. That’s the category before endangered.

There are two main threats to elephants: poaching and habitat loss. Bruno Oberle is the IUCN director. He hopes the report inspires action. “Africa’s elephants play key roles in ecosystems, economies, and in our collective imagination all over the world,” Oberle says.

Stop and Think! What data does the author use in this article? How does the data help you understand the problem the article describes?