Many populations of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) have enjoyed 15 years of protection against poachers. We suggest that increasing investment in anti-poaching measures and law enforcement in Africa could help to stem the escalating crisis for African elephants (Loxodonta africana).
Since 2010, Africa has received some US$500 million of international donor funding to increase law enforcement in protected areas (go.nature.com/2h76smi). However, poaching is still rife, particularly where rangers are sparse. Even well-resourced parks in southern Africa are not immune.
Poaching of Asian elephants was stopped across Cambodia's Cardamom Rainforest Landscape in 2001, and has been kept at bay at an annual cost of $200 per square kilometre. Assuming similar factors operate in Africa, and given that the estimated range of the African elephant is 3 million km2, on-the-ground action at poaching sites would need some $600 million annually.
Although daunting, this sum is less than $1,500 a year for each live African elephant — much lower than even conservative estimates of its value to ecosystem services and ecotourism. The global community must help to raise these funds.