ELEPHANTS: THE GENTLE GIANTS
Decline in the African elephant population
African bull elephant
Despite public and private efforts to curb the trade, ivory poaching remains a problem internationally. While elephants are also killed for their meat and hides, ivory from their tusks are their most coveted parts. Over 12,000 are poached every year with the majority being within Central Africa. In 2011, instances of poaching were at their highest in Africa since ivory trade was banned internationally in 1989. In addition to poaching, elephants are also dwindling from rapid habitat loss in the form of agricultural expansion and human conflict.
© Copyright Sean Lee-Davies for Project C:Change
African elephants are now numbered at 470,000 with poaching mainly stemming from underfunded or corrupt wildlife management authorities. Asian elephants have less than 32,000 remaining with poaching aimed exclusively at males as females do not have tusks.
“Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with joy. There’s bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.”
― Jennifer Richard Jacobson
African elephants are integral to the maintenance and balance of all other species in a community. They are responsible for pulling down trees and breaking thorny bushes to create grasslands for other animals to survive. They also create salt licks rich in nutrients as well as digging waterholes in dry riverbeds that other animals rely on for a water source. Elephant dung is important to both other animals and humans. For example, baboons and birds pick through dung for undigested seeds and nuts, and dung beetles reproduce in these deposits. The manure is nutrient-rich and acts to replenish depleted soil so that humans can have a fertile land for harvesting.
African elephants are classified as vulnerable and Asian elephants are endangered.
Adopt an Elephant!
Foster a baby elephant who was left to fend for itself after its parents were killed by poachers. For an elephant, family is all important; a calf’s very existence depends upon its mother’s milk for the first two years of life. Their survival depends on you! See the list of orphans available for fostering, what you receive as a foster parent, and detailed orphan profiles as handled by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. You can foster for as little as US$50 per year.