An international group of ecologists has announced that areas of Asia theoretically habitable for elephants have shrunk by more than 64 percent over the past three centuries due to human activity.
Scientific Reports notes that such a reduction would make it more difficult for Asian elephants to recover.
The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is a large animal with a trunk. In the distant past, a large number of these elephants lived in various regions of Asia, including Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq), while their number in the world currently does not exceed 52 thousand elephants, and they are constantly decreasing.
According to scientists, the survival of elephants is threatened by human activities: poaching for their tusks, cutting down forests for firewood and building new residential areas. In addition, contacts between people and wild elephants have become more frequent, which in most cases leads to their death.
An international team led by Shermine da Silva of the University of California San Diego studied the living conditions of wild Asian elephants today, as well as how land use has changed over the past 1,200 years.
The results showed that the area suitable for elephant habitat in Asia has declined by more than 64 percent, and that most of this reduction has occurred over the past three centuries.
According to Shermin da Silva and her scientific team, this decline is due to the colonization of European countries by Asian countries, industrial development and the rapid growth of the world’s population.
The scientific team points out that the hardest hit countries are China and India, which have lost 94 percent and 86 percent, respectively, of elephant habitat, while that area has expanded in Malaysia and Laos over the past three centuries.
The team found that the typical area of forest that elephants can live in has decreased by more than 83 percent from 99,000 square kilometers. km to 16 thousand square kilometers. This leads to the division of these animals into small groups, which makes it difficult for them to survive.
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