This coming Monday (August 12th) is World Elephant Day! It was created to bring awareness to the needs of elephants and spread awareness about the critical threat to elephant populations all across the globe. We’re trying to help spread the word about the dangers facing these beautiful creatures and what we all can do to stop them.
The number of elephants have dropped by 62% over the past 10 years, largely due to poaching for meat and especially ivory. Elephants are on track to become extinct in the not so distant future. It’s estimated that 100 African elephants are killed by poachers each and every day. Today, there are between 450,000 – 700,000 African elephants remaining and 35,000 – 40,000 wild Asian elephants.
The going rate of ivory on the black market has grown, making elephants a major target in the wild. And while some groups have attempted dying elephant tusks pink to evade poachers, the truth is that this won’t stop them.
Did you know that elephants are the largest mammals found on land? – Aside from humans and the other great apes, they’re also the most intelligent. They live in matriarchal social groups. Their pregnancies last for nearly two years, and they enter the world weighing more than 200 pounds.
They use their tusks (the ones that are so coveted by poachers) to dig for their food, find water in the dirt, as a weapon to defend themselves or in battles with a rival and to woo a prospective mate. Both African and Asian elephants can live for decades in the wild — unless they’re poached first.
How to Help the Elephants
The most obvious point here is to never buy, sell or wear ivory. Beyond that, check that any coffee or wood you buy is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as these crops tend to destroy their natural habitat. The International Elephant Foundation and African Wildlife Foundation both do good work helping to protect elephants. If your local zoo has elephants in captivity, ask questions about how they’re being treated and what their habitat is like. Together, we can work to preserve these beautiful and majestic creatures before it’s too late.