Scientific name

Loxodonta africana


2,000 to 6,100 kilograms (about 2 to 7 tons)


Up to 4 meters (13 feet)

Life span

60 to 70 years


Open and closed savanna, grasslands, and arid deserts




About 22 months


Humans and occasionally lions or hyenas

Native to
African countries
of population is poached


Elephant poaching and demand for ivory are driving this mammal toward extinction.

The large ivory tusks on either side of their face—used for foraging for food and water—have long been desired by people. The ivory trade is driven by consumer demand for products made from tusks and supplied by a sophisticated international network of traffickers. Poachers kill this iconic species for its ivory tusks, which are then sold and made into anything from jewelry and crafts to musical instruments to religious objects. At current poaching rates, populations may disappear in the wild within our lifetimes.

Elephant gestation and reproduction is a slow process.

They have longer pregnancies than almost any other mammal. Calves are carried for about 22 months, with cows usually bearing only one calf every three to six years. Their regeneration rate averages 5 to 6 percent annually, compared to the 8 to 9 percent poaching rates, resulting in a net loss in population numbers. Extinction is a very real threat if poaching continues unabated. 


Our solutions to protecting and conserving this iconic threatened African species:

Protected Area
Give them room to roam.

Wildlife corridors are large sections of land that allow wildlife to move from one national park to another—and even from one country to another. African Wildlife Foundation works with people on all levels— from governments to communities—to set land aside specifically for wildlife use, and in some cases, purchase land to set it aside for conservation. Habitat loss poses a long-term threat to African elephant populations. AWF is working in countries like Zambia to create protected spaces for this beloved species. We worked with Zambia’s Sekute Chiefdom to create the Sekute Conservation Area, and in exchange for protecting wild spaces for wildlife, AWF rebuilt the Lupani School. 

Empower community members.

AWF works with communities who live in close quarters with wildlife, to recruit, train, and equip wildlife scouts. These wildlife scouts monitor wildlife and can prevent them from destroying crops, thereby preventing farmers from viewing them as pests, Scouts are also instrumental in deterring poachers. As a result, AWF can ensure enhanced protection of wildlife in these regions, like the Osupuko and Kitome Conservancies in Kenya, as well as provide additional employment opportunities to local communities. 10 of the 14 of the elephant populations AWF works with are now stable or increasing.

Spread the Word
Raising awareness to end ivory demand.

AWF is fighting the demand for ivory in China and across the world, educating consumers about the real cost of ivory products and working with governments to close ivory markets. Since 2012, AWF and partner WildAID have developed celebrity-driven public awareness campaigns that shed light on the ivory trade’s impact on populations and demonstrate the true horrors of poaching. We have worked with celebrity ambassadors like former NBA star, Yao Ming, actor Jackie Chan, actor Li Bingbing, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. Since our campaigns first launched, public awareness around the ivory trade has increased and tolerance for ivory products is decreasing. China’s 2018 domestic ivory ban will also contribute to curbing poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife products.



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