The insatiable demand for ivory is causing a dramatic decline in the number of African elephants. Poachers are hunting the animal faster than it can reproduce, with deaths affecting more than half of elephant families in the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, a new study finds. In 2011, the worst African elephant poaching year on record since 1998, poachers killed an estimated 40,000 elephants, or about 8 percent of the elephant population in Africa. In the absence of poaching, African elephant populations grow about 4.2 percent each year, the researchers found based on detailed records from Samburu.
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