The elephant Loxodonta africana population of
Mozambique has declined rapidly over the last 4 decades. Historical census data are incomplete but suggest that the impact of human activity on the elephant population increased after the onset of the colonial era. Demand for ivory explains the population decline from 1700 to 1940, and the
killing of elephants as part of settlement policies and tsetse fly control programmes further reduced the populations between 1940 and 1960. Land transformation from 1900 onwards may also have contributed to the historical decline in
elephant numbers. Our assessment suggests that landscape approaches should be explored in seeking to conserve elephants in modern Mozambique.