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Sumatran elephant at high risk of extinction

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) raised its listing of the Sumatran elephant from "endangered" to "critically endangered," spurring the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to warn that the species could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years unless immediate steps are taken, Reuters reports.

The WWF states that steps need to be taken to protect the elephant's rapidly diminishing habitat. The elephant is severely threatened by deforestation and the conversion of its forests for agriculture use, the news outlet reports. The same practices are threatening the Sumatran tiger and Javan rhinoceros.

The organization is calling upon the Indonesian government to prohibit all forest conversion where these elephants live until a conservation strategy is plotted out.

"Riau Province has already lost six of its nine herds to extinction," Anwar Puroto of WWF-Indonesia said in a statement. "Forest concession holders such as pulp and paper companies and the palm oil industry have a legal and ethical obligation to protect endangered species within their concessions."

The Associated Press reports that the Sumatran elephant had its listing changes after its numbers dropped to somewhere between 2,400 and 2,800 from about 5,000 in 1985.
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