|Elephants are a symbol of African wilderness. They are the world's largest land mammals, weighing up to 7,500kgs, and live for up to 70 years in units of six to 70 members, led by a female. A few hundred years ago, African elephants roamed savannahs and forests south of the Sahara Desert. Sadly, elephants have suffered dramatic population declines in Africa as a result of increasing demand for ivory tusks. Dramatic human population growth and the conversion of elephant habitat to agricultural land have caused human-elephant conflicts to increase where elephants trample crops and damage infrastructure in search of food.
In 1990, CITES recognised the endangered status of the elephant and it is now illegal to export ivory. Although poaching of elephants for their ivory has declined it remains a widespread problem and large quantities of African ivory are still appearing in illegal markets in Africa and Asia.
African elephants' tusks have been used in jewellery and piano keys, their hides are traded, their meat is used by local people and the species is highly prized among big game hunters. Elephants can be a severe agricultural nuisance in many areas and their effects on subsistence farmers can be devastating. As the majority of Africa’s elephants live outside protected wildlife areas, in order to protect these populations it is or great importance to understand the relationship between humans and elephants and work to resolve conflict issues.