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Working to Save Our Beloved Elephants

Posted by Administrator on 8/26/2013

What is it about elephants that makes them so appealing? Apart from their majestic bearing, kind and gentle nature, we probably sense there are similarities between our two species. Elephants are intelligent and able to use logic to manipulate objects in order to get something they want. They have the ability to use and make their own tools. Elephants also experience strong emotional attachment, loving and caring for each other and even mourning dead relatives. Even more astounding, each year they return as a group to the spot where the relative died, much the same way we commemorate our loved ones who have passed.


While the elephant is loved and revered by peoples and cultures around the world, we are on the brink of losing this magnificent creature, with wild elephants drastically decreasing in number each year. African and Indian elephants are facing threats such as poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, mistreatment in captivity, among others. To combat this situation, numerous elephant conservation organizations are focusing on goals such as better protection for elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and the ivory trade, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants, and when appropriate reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries.


On August 12th, 2012 the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Indian and African elephants. World Elephant Day asks each of us to experience elephants in a non-exploitive and sustainable environment, where they can thrive under care and protection, to support solutions and share knowledge for the better care of both captive and wild elephants.


*Elephant Facts…Did You Know That…


·       There are two species of elephants – African and Asian, and while they have similar physiology, they are too different biologically to interbreed.

·       The Asian elephant is endangered, with less than 43,000 remaining worldwide.

·       The African elephant (forest and savannah) is threatened, with less than 400,000 remaining worldwide.

·       In 1989 CITES (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) issued an international ban on the ivory trade.

·       2011 saw the highest number of illegal ivory seizures recorded in the last 23 years

·       The street value of a single tusk is about US $15,000

·       The main market for illegal ivory is China

·       Tusks are found in African elephants of both genders while only in Asian males

·       An African bull’s tusks can grow to over 11 feet long and weigh 220 pounds


*Info courtesy World Elephant Day Organisation

There are countless organization working tirelessly at all levels to raise awareness about, and bring solutions to the issues which impact elephants. Unfortunately the multi-million dollar black market ivory industry continues to be the major scourge for elephants and enforcement policies and penalties are not strong enough to punish those behind the trade.


At the political level some government leaders are starting to acknowledge the impact and scope of the illegal wildlife trade. Political will, policy changes, stepping-up law enforcement and cooperation between all the stakeholder countries is ultimately necessary to stop wildlife crime.


One positive development has been the steady increase in public awareness about the severity of these issues. Large NGOs campaign against these atrocities, lobby governments to take action on the international stage, and help in the implementation of strategic policies designed to help elephant populations. Meanwhile grassroot organisations utilize social media to push for change and enlighten more and more people to the plight of elephants. For example, on October 4th the iWorry Campaign of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust will hold the International March for the Elephant in 13 cities around the world.


Even the US government has become involved in this issue. On July 1st, 2013, President Obama issued an executive order aiming to protect elephants, along with other wildlife subject to trafficking. The Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, as established by the Executive Order, “calls for a national strategy that will marshal the efforts of the U.S. Government to meet this challenge at home and to assist foreign governments combating wildlife trafficking and related transnational organized crime.” The Task Force is comprised of officials from the Department of State, Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior.



So What Can We Do?


·       Learn about and support organisations that are working to protect habitat for wild elephants, to stop illegal poaching and trade of ivory, that are building natural sanctuaries or alternative habitat for elephants and finding solutions for elephant/human conflict

·       Do not buy ivory or other wildlife products.

·       Do not support organisations which exploit or abuse elephants or other animals under the guise of entertainment

·       Support healthy, alternative livelihoods for people who have traditionally relied on elephants or other wild animals.

·       Embrace the qualities we all love in elephants and express these in your daily lives.

·       Initiate discussions at schools, universities, community centers, churches, about elephants to share knowledge about their situation and increase support

·       Experience elephants in a natural, eco-friendly environment

·       Be aware of elephant habitat, e.g. purchase fair-trade or shade-grown coffee, do not buy products containing palm oil.


Ordinary people can become the most passionate advocates for change and we have the power to create a more positive future for these wonderful, powerful creatures who embody so much that is positive and uplifting about our planet.


































































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