The forest elephants of central Africa are suffering a "widespread and catastrophic decline," according to a study published Monday in the online journal PLOS ONE.
The study's authors write that the elephant population plummeted by 62% between 2002–2011, during which time they lost 30% of their range.
Industrial agriculture takeover of land, such as the palm oil industry, is threatening the forest elephants' habitat. But it is the poaching as part of the illegal ivory trade that is fueling their decline, the report states.
Conservation group Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) charged on Monday that web giant Google is fostering the illicit trade of the poached ivory through advertisements from its Japanese Shopping site, saying that it has about 10,000 ads promoting ivory products, as well as ads promoting whale products.
“Google has laudable policies that prohibit the promotion of endangered wildlife products including whale, dolphin and elephant ivory, but sadly these are not being enforced and that’s devastating for whales and elephants,” EIA President Allan Thornton said in a statement.
“While elephants are being mass slaughtered across Africa to produce ivory trinkets, it is shocking to discover that Google, with the massive resources it has at its disposal, is failing to enforce its own policies designed to help protect endangered elephants and whales,” stated Thornton.