L'oeil de la Genève Internationale
December 2016

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently released the African Elephant Status Report 2016. The report provides vital information on changes in elephant numbers, indicating where they are occurring and enabling scientists to identify drivers of population decline and implement effective, targeted conservation action.

The report, which was launched during the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), reveals some alarming findings: in recent years African elephants have experienced their worst decline in 25 years, mainly as a result of poaching, with a shocking 50% reduction in numbers in eastern Africa since 2006. According to the report, the surge in poaching for ivory which began approximately a decade ago – the worst that Africa has experienced since the 1970s and 1980s – has been the main driver behind this decline, reducing African elephant numbers by an estimated 111'000 individuals overall. Habitat loss has also been identified as an increasingly serious, long-term threat to the species.

The IUCN – a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations – is a reference on the status of the natural world and the ways to safeguard it. IUCN's six commissions, comprising experts from its various member organisations, focus on a wide array of issues including species survival.

Through a series of epic panoramas published in his book "Inherit the Dust" (Edwynn Houk Editions, 2016), renowned wildlife photographer Nick Brandt records the impact of man on places where animals used to roam, but no longer do. In each location, Brandt erects a life size panel of one of his animal portrait photographs, setting it within a landscape of rapid urban development, factories, wasteland and quarries. In this photo series, Brandt also shows that the people in the images, who are generally oblivious to the presence of the panels and the animals featured on them, are victims of this situation as much as the animals.