As of July 2014, there are between 450,000 and 700,000 African elephants in the world, and between 35,000 and 40,000 Asian elephants, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Both species are threatened not only by habitat loss, but also by poaching for the illegal ivory trade.

Despite restrictions, the ivory trade still flourishes in many parts of the world. The organization WildAid reports that 30,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks. Elephant populations are also threatened by loss of habitat. Many climate change projections suggest that elephant habitats may become hotter and drier, meaning poorer foraging conditions for herds. Even under the best conditions, elephant populations are very slow growing, in part because of the elephant's 22-month gestation period, the longest of any mammal.