Many wildlife species are threatened by shrinking habitat. But according to new research, the potential range of African elephants could be more than five times larger than its current extent. Due to 2,000 years of human pressure, African elephants have suffered dramatic population declines, and their range has shrunk to just 17% of what it could be, say researchers who led the new study, in Current Biology. The dramatic reduction in range is due to the killing of elephants for their ivory and the encroachment of humans into elephant habitat. Evidence for elephants being drastically reduced in certain regions by the trade in tusks goes back to Ancient Roman times, but reached new levels from the 17th century onwards with the arrival of European traders and colonizers in Africa who fed the demand for ivory.
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