The most comprehensive data on elephant population and range worldwide.
Log In

2012 Regional Totals for Central Africa ("2013 AFRICA" analysis)

Reports > Loxodonta africana > 2012 > Africa > Central Africa

All Years for Central Africa: 20132007200219981995

2012 Summary Totals for Central Africa

Data Category Definite Probable Possible Speculative
Aerial or Ground Total Counts 2,225 0 0 0
Direct Sample Counts and Reliable Dung Counts 7,543 2,436 2,436 0
Other Dung Counts 1 62,668 12,077 0
Informed Guesses 6,713 0 11,777 6,316
Other Guesses 4 0 0 39,412
Totals 2012 16,486 65,104 26,290 45,728
Totals 2007 10,383 48,936 43,098 34,611

Area of Range Covered by Each Data Category (km²)

Data Category Known Range Possible Range Total Range
Aerial or Ground Total Counts 16,303 13,358 29,661
Direct Sample Counts and Reliable Dung Counts 87,206 2,717 89,923
Informed Guesses 101,860 795 102,655
Other Dung Counts 88,918 0 88,918
Other Guesses 240,067 2,852 242,918
Unassessed Range 300,395 150,616 451,158
Totals 834,748 170,339 1,005,234

Country and Regional Totals and Data Quality

Country Definite Probable Possible Speculative Range Area (km²) % of Regional Range % of Range Assessed IQI1 PFS2
Cameroon 775 1,079 2,150 10,045 120,510 12 39 .05 1
Central African Republic 1,019 113 113 1,040 81,041 8 97 .48 2
Chad 454 0 2,000 550 149,443 15 26 .04 1
Congo 7,198 30,979 11,071 0 141,302 14 40 .31 1
Democratic Republic of Congo 1,708 3,036 5,099 3,831 276,209 27 45 .16 1
Equatorial Guinea 0 0 700 630 15,023 1 13 .00 2
Gabon 4,996 30,511 12,103 29,642 221,706 22 94 .43 1
Totals 16,486 65,104 26,310 45,738 1,005,234 100 55 .29 1

Central Africa: Summary

Important progress has been made in this subregion, with the addition of sites in the Sudanian zone of Central Africa.  For the first time we have a wide multinational view of what is happening to elephants across this vast belt which historically included some of the continent’s largest herds.

While there was an increase in coverage in the forest areas across the subregion, surveys during this period were complicated as the historic elephant landscapes are vast, remote and increasingly occupied by militias and brigands in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

Repeat surveys were conducted in only two areas in the subregion: Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Lope National Park in Gabon.  As such, much of the change in the pooled estimates at the subregional level can be accounted for by changes in survey methodology and coverage, as well as the addition of a number of New Populations and New Guesses (addition of a total of 11,814 DEFINITES and 15,594 PROBABLES).  Despite this, we are aware of population declines in the savanna region, in the northern areas of the Central African Republic and in Zakouma National Park in Chad, as well as a number of declines in forest populations (Maisels et al., in prep).

In addition to the aerial and dung counts making up the new estimates in this update, a number of recce surveys were conducted, showing that elephant densities are very low, but spread over large landscapes.  This presents problems for survey design and quality.  Despite these constraints, key sites in countries across the region (including but not exclusive to MIKE sites) should be monitored on a regular basis and emphasis for future work should be put on repeat surveys of key elephant landscapes across the region. 

These population estimates should be understood in the context of major poaching in the region covering the update period. The latest MIKE analysis shows that PIKE (Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants) levels have been above 0.5 since 2007, with the PIKE level for 2011 at 0.9.   This high PIKE level likely indicates a net decline for the African elephant population, at least in MIKE sites in Central Africa.  Likewise, the latest ETIS cluster analysis identifies 4 of the 7 range States in Central Africa (Congo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon) as important states in the illegal ivory trade, while Equatorial Guinea has never submitted a single elephant product seizure to ETIS. 

In Central Africa, the context remains highly dynamic, with both poaching and habitat fragmentation impacting elephant populations.  In 2012 COMIFAC endorsed a Wildlife Trade Law Enforcement Plan.  While the 2005 Central African Elephant Conservation Strategy has been in place since 2005, implementation has been slow.  Cameroon is the only country in the subregion with a national strategy.

1 IQI: Information Quality Index: This index quantifies overall data quality at the regional level based on the precision of estimates and the proportion of assessed elephant range (i.e. range for which estimates are available). The IQI ranges from zero (no reliable information) to one (perfect information).

2 PFS: Priority for Future Surveys, ranked from 1 to 5 (highest to lowest). Based on the precision of estimates and the proportion of national range accounted for by the site in question, PFS is a measure of the importance and urgency for future population surveys. All areas of unassessed range have a priority of 1. See Introduction for details on how the PFS is derived.

Note that totals for the Definite, Probable, and Possible categories are derived by pooling the variances of individual estimates, as described at As a result, totals do not necessarily match the simple sum of the entries within a given category.