Ignoring species hybrids in the IUCN Red List assessments for African elephants may bias conservation policy
WildCRU’s Hans Bauer and Claudio Sillero, working with West African colleagues, reacted to the recent publication of IUCN Red List assessments for savanna and forest elephants, now considered distinct species. In correspondence to Nature Ecology and Evolution they argued that the approach taken by the Red List to assess the extinction risk of elephants in Africa introduced a bias for West African nations. Savanna and forest elephants are not completely allopatric – West Africa hosts several populations where forest and savanna elephants hybridise, and only one population of pure savanna elephants. As a consequence of choices made by the assessors, but not prescribed by the Red List criteria, their decision leaves only Mali as a formal range state of savanna elephants. We highlight the resulting risk that other West African states could be side-lined in any policy discussions affecting the future of African elephants.
Bauer, H., Tehou, A. C., Gueye, M., Garba, H., Doamba, B., Diouck, D., & Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2021). Ignoring species hybrids in the IUCN Red List assessments for African elephants may bias conservation policy. Nature Ecology and Evolution.