Fifth Annual World Elephant Day, August 12, 2016.
Bringing the World Together to Help Elephants
The first World Elephant Day was on August 12, 2012, and many organizations around the world are trying to help the plight of the elephants, such as WWF, Save the Elephants, and International Elephant Foundation.
In honor of this day and these animals, I found some of our pictures taken at different times. Enjoy!
World Elephant Day is a celebration of these animals and a call for the protection of the giant creatures and a promotion of conservation. The African elephant weights roughly 22,000 pounds and is the largest land animal: the Asian elephant is smaller at 10,000 pounds. This great size has not prevented their decimation, however. Nor has the fact that elephants have been potent cultural symbols worldwide, especially in Buddhist and Hindu lore and religion.
Like so many of the wonderful animal and plant species on our earth, elephants are endangered. According to the official World Elephant Day website, only 40,000 Asian elephants remain worldwide, and only 400,000 African elephants.
We are from southern Africa and love all the wildlife there, but I’ve always had a special soft spot for elephants. These huge creatures have an amazing social system, they are very intelligent—it’s been shown that they have feelings of empathy, grief for lost loved ones, an understanding of teamwork, and an ability to use tools.
On our many trips to various National Parks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya we’ve spent countless hours watching these giant creatures—and at times, many hours waiting for them to move off the road! It’s a lot of fun to watch elephants and their interactions in a group (from a safe place, of course). We’ve seen them on the grass plains, in wooded thickets, around water holes, and they are magnificent wherever they are.
One of the main reasons these (mostly) gentle giants are endangered is because of their ivory tusks, which are coveted in some parts of the world, leading to a huge illegal market in ivory. Other reasons are habitat loss and human-elephant conflict, usually over territory and crops. But I’ve also heard reports about elephants dying when hit by a speeding train in India.
What can we, as ordinary individuals, do to help?
—Support a ban on ivory trade
—Support any measures that will help stop poaching of elephants
–Support measures to conserve elephant habitats
–Ensure that captive elephants are treated properly
—Donate to one of the organizations if you are able
Following is a nice series of an elephant slowly sauntering along the road in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. You definitely wait until he/she decides to get off the road!
Here is some information taken from the official website. It’s both sobering and encouraging reading.
In 1989, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) issued an international ban on the ivory trade.
2013 saw the greatest quantity of ivory confiscated in the last 25 years.
The street value of a single tusk is approximately US$15,000.
The main market for illegal ivory is China, where a single tusk can fetch $100,000–200,000.
Tusks are found in African elephants of both sexes while only in Asian males.
An African bull’s tusks can grow to over 11 feet long and weigh 220 pounds.
May 2016, Kenya showed that it has zero-tolerance for the illegal ivory trade by torching 105 tons worth of ivory. The largest ivory burn in history.
June 2, 2016, US adopts a near-total ivory ban.
China has made several steps that indicate it might be heading towards a complete ban of commercial ivory.”