Elephants carry young in their bellies for almost two years before they are born. This long gestation period, along with the fact that they usually only give birth to one calf at a time, means the reproduction rate of the elephant is relatively low.

Elephants are not only remarkable because of their size. They have complex social structures and a sophisticated communication system as well as emotional bonds that rival those of humans. They live in a close-knit family group, led by an experienced matriarch who leads the herd in search of food and water.

Elephants rely on corridors and huge areas of connected wilderness to travel great distances for food and water. Conflicts arise between elephants and local communities when these migratory routes are obstructed due to land grabbing and demographic pressure.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were still an estimated ten million elephants living on the African continent. The population collapsed within a very short space of time due to the massive loss of wild areas as a result of increasing population numbers.

Poachers are interested in the elephant’s tusks. During the worst period of poaching, which took place in the 70s and 80s, it is estimated that 100,000 elephants were shot dead annually, and that a population of 3-5 million was reduced by 90%. Trade in elephant ivory was declared illegal in 1990, a measure that enabled the population to recover in several regions. However, wherever corrupt governments are at work, the slaughter continues.

Unfortunately, Africa is still losing too many elephants in certain areas.
Good News
The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) as Endangered. Before 2021, African elephants were treated as a single species, listed as Vulnerable; the two species are now assessed separately and the new status underline the persistence pressure faced by these iconic animals, stressing the urgency to do more for their protection.

The KAZA Elephant Survey was conducted from August to October 2022 to estimate the number and distribution of Africa’s largest savanna elephant population. It was the first time that all five KAZA partner states—Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—collaboratively undertook a standardized survey of the region’s entire elephant population in a single coordinated exercise.

The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) represents over 50% of the remaining African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) on the continent and covers an area of 519'912 km². The overall elephant population in the KAZA TFCA appears generally stable. While certain regions exhibit population growth, others remain steady, and a few may have experienced a decline.

Read the full report here: KAZA Elephant Survey Fact Sheet
Elephant Facts
  • The gestation period is 22 month
  • Spend almost all day with feeding
  • Weigh up to 6 tons
  • Live up to 70 years
  • Are born blind
  • Mourn their deaths
  • Their trunk has 40,000 muscles
  • Trumpeting can be heard 10km away