Over the next three decades, the human population is projected to reach 9 billion people. In that same time, Sumatran elephants, currently numbering around 2,500 members, are expected to reach zero. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the same harmfull deforestation practices which have already halved the elephants' population since the mid-1980s continues on through to today virtually unabated -- putting the majestic and endangered species on a collision course with extinction.
In the last 35 years, the once heavily foliaged Indonesian island of Sumatra has nearly half of its forest coverage from deforestation, resulting in the fragmentation of habitats for much of the region's unique wildlife. Among the island's hardest-hit species have been large land mammals, like Sumatran elephants, which are highly dependent on large swaths of uninterrupted forest. As such habitats have dwindled, so too has their chances of long-term survival.
In light of the ongoing threats, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently reclassified the Sumatran elephant's already troubled conservation status from 'endangered' to 'critically endangered' -- joining Sumatran rhinos, Sumatran orangutans, and Sumatran tigers on that grim list of species nearing extinction.
Conservationists have renewed their warnings to curb deforestation on Sumatra, asserting that, if nothing is done, the elephants will likely be wiped out entirely very soon -- though there is a still time to stop it:
"An immediate moratorium on habitat conversion is needed to secure a future for Sumatran elephants," says the WWF in a statement, as reported by The Telegraph. "Scientists say that if current trends continue, Sumatran elephants could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years."