Preservation is perhaps the simplest form of conservation. As human populations grow, the demand for land and resources also increase, which results in the loss of habitat and specific species. (see the section on extinction). This has made preservation of land, habitats and species vital although often very difficult to achieve.
Preservation conservation on its own rarely works, unless management conservation is included. Elephants cannot survive without a suitable habitat and a protected orchid meadow will soon change (by a process of succession) into woodland.
Example - Preservation of the African Elephant.
Both the Asian and African elephant are under threat of extinction and the IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has rated the Asian elephant as endangered and the African elephant as vulnerable.
- The Asian elephant has been pressured by the loss of its habitat and living close to agricultural areas where they raid crops.
- African elephants are mainly threatened by the illegal trade in ivory and poaching although there is also increasing ‘friction’ between elephants and farmers.
- In the 1980’s, African elephant numbers declined from 1.3 million to 600,000. At the height of the ivory trade, over 2,000 elephants were being killed for their tusks every week.
- During the 80’s, many African nations invested large amounts of money tp protect elephants and stop poaching. In some countries such as Kenya, this failed to slow the slaughter of elephants and in 1989 there were only 16,000 left.
- From 1975 to 1989 the ivory trade was regulated by CITES (link to this section) and permits were required for the international trade in ivory.
- In 1998, the African elephant was so endangered that a ban was placed on the trade of all elephant products.
- Since then, there has been a recovery in elephant numbers and countries like Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe have been allowed to have a limited trade in ivory.
- Some countries feel that a limited trade in ivory will encourage poaching whilst others can see the benefit of a sustainable ivory trade, especially if elephant numbers are stable and the money can be used to support elephant conservation. What do you think?
- For more information – go to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.org