MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique has lost half its elephants over the past five years, part of a wave of poaching driven by red-hot demand for ivory from fast-growing Asian economies such as China and Vietnam, a conservation organization said on Tuesday.
The results of a survey indicate the southern African nation’s elephant population fell to 10,300 from 20,000 five years ago, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a statement.
“This decline is due to rampant elephant poaching,” WCS said.
The survey was undertaken by the Mozambican government in conjunction with WCS and received donor funding from USAID, the U.S. government’s foreign aid agency.
The poaching has been mainly in the Niassa National Reserve in the remote north near the border with Tanzania, an area where conservationists have been raising alarm bells for years.
Tanzania reveals its own elephant numbers on June 1.
Besides ivory, Mozambique is regularly cited as a major transit route for rhino horn poached from South Africa, home to most of the world’s remaining population of the animals.
South Africa lost a record 1,215 rhinos last year, almost 20 percent more than in 2013.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley