By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter
Elephant poaching is in decline in Africa, but official corruption and poverty mean the population remains under threat, according to a new study,
Research published in the journal Nature Communications has found that African elephant poaching rates across 53 sites on the continent match-up with the ivory demand in the main Chinese markets.
It also found correlations between the variations in poaching at those different elephant sanctuary sites and the levels of poverty and official corruption in those African nations.
Co-author Dr Colin Beale, from the University of York, told Sky News that where the team identified the highest levels of corruption and poverty, they also found the highest levels of poaching.
Dr Beale added: "We are seeing a downturn in poaching, which is obviously positive news, but it is still above what we think is sustainable so the elephant populations are declining.
"The poaching rates seem to respond primarily to ivory prices in South East Asia and we can't hope to succeed without tackling demand in that region."
China instituted an internal ivory trade ban in 2017, however the researchers say it is impossible to link the declining poaching rate to the ban.
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Poaching levels peaked at 10% of the entire African elephant population in 2011, and fell to less than 4% in 2017.
Although the levels of poaching and illegal elephant deaths is dropping, the researchers believe it remains too high to sustain the elephant population over time.
According to estimates there are around 350,000 elephants left in Africa, but up to 15,000 are killed by poachers each year for their ivory.
The researchers noted that poaching levels began to drop before the Chinese ban began, and could reflect a general economic downturn in the country's economy.
Lead author Dr Severin Hauenstein, from the University of Freiburg in Germany, said: "This is aRead More – Source