Half Of Mozambique’s Elephants Were Slaughtered By Poachers Over The Past 5 Years

We’ve all heard the dire statistics about elephant poaching — if current trends continue, there’s a good chance we’re looking at the end of an entire species. But apparently, poachers in Mozambique don’t think that timeline is fast enough.

A startling new study shows 48 percent of elephants in the country — some 9,700 animals — have been slaughtered over the past five years.

“The numbers from Mozambique are depressing,” James Deutsch, vice president of conservation strategy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The Huffington Post. “Many of us were shocked. We knew that poaching was continuing, but we didn’t know that it was so bad.”

The recent data comes from the ongoing Great Elephant Census, an observation study meant to catalogue more than 90 percent of the world’s pachyderms in 21 countries. The effort, which is funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s investment company, has already documented “unsustainable rates of killing” across swaths of the African continent.

Elephant ivory is still highly prized in some cultures, fetching upwards of $1,800 a pound, according to reports from The Guardian. Many wildlife experts have pointed to growing demand from a rising middle and upper class in China, who value the tusks as a status symbol. The country currently has a small legal ivory trade, but many conservationists say a majority of the wildlife product is imported illegally from poached animals.

“China is clearly driving the illegal ivory trade more than any other nation on earth,” an elephant expert told The New York Times in 2013.

The country banned all ivory imports for a year in February, but the news is still grim. Some scientists have warned that African elephants could go extinct by 2020 (yes, —> Read More

Hawaii Could Face More Hurricanes Than Usual This Season

HONOLULU (AP) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center says the 2015 hurricane season in the region will see more storms than average.

Tom Evans, the acting director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said at a news conference Tuesday that the prediction is based largely on current El Nino conditions in the region. El Nino is the warming of the water on the surface of the ocean along the equator, he said, and there are more storms on average during El Nino. “El Nino has been established, it’s out there,” Evans said. “We have the warm water and it’s been increasing over the last many months.” The El Nino conditions are expected to strengthen during the hurricane season, he added.

The prediction means Hawaii and the surrounding area will likely see between five and eight storms this season. There is a 70 percent chance of having an above normal season.

In 2014 there were five hurricanes in the region, which falls within the average of four to five storms per year. The last hurricane to directly hit Hawaii was Iniki in 1992. In 2014, Hurricane Iselle approached the island chain but weakened to a tropical storm just before making landfall. Two other major storms barely missed the state last year.

The region’s hurricane season lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30. Most of Hawaii’s tropical cyclones happen in August, according to NOAA.

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Follow Caleb Jones on Twitter: @CalebAP

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