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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about the African elephant, classified as an Endangered Species in 1990.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Twenty-five years ago this week, the world's largest land animal was slaughtered in Mocusso, Angola. The creature, an African bush elephant, weighed more than 13 tons and stood 13 feet tall at the shoulder. At the time an international debate was brewing whether the African elephant should be classified as an endangered or a threatened species. Nations that depended on ivory sales to boost their economies wanted the lesser protective classification of threatened so they could continue to sell tusks. Other countries, alarmed by the rapid population decline, wanted the animal marked endangered, and a ban on international trade. It wasn't until 1990 that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species classified the African elephant as endangered. This status hasn't kept poachers from killing elephants, but it has lowered demand for ivory and curbed the population decline. There have been a few recent attempts to repeal the African elephant's endangered status and open the ivory trade again. But for now, at least, the creature that John Donne once called "nature's great masterpiece" is relatively safe. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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