Africa's elephant population has plunged faster than almost anyone predicted, raising startling questions about the failure to protect one of the world's largest mammals.
There are now only 352,271 savanna elephants in nearly all of sub-Saharan Africa, according to Elephants Without Borders, a research organisation that just completed an 18-country census.
Between 2007 and 2014, the elephant population declined by at least 30 per cent, or 144,000 elephants, the study found. African savanna elephants graze in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Previous estimates had suggested that the population was considerably higher, making the results of the new study, called the Great Elephant Census, a devastating revelation.
"These dramatic declines in elephant populations are almost certainly due to poaching for ivory," the study said.
"Elephant poaching has increased substantially over the past 5-10 years, especially in eastern and western Africa."