The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The world’s population of elephants is nearing a critical point as the two types of African elephants are almost extinct. This is honestly so sad to hear because elephants are my favorite animal. They are innocent and beautiful creatures that are treated so poorly in order for their ivory.
You may be wondering, what’s the difference between African and Asian elephants. Well, African and Asian elephants are more closely related to the woolly mammoth than to each other. The ears are said to be a geographical guide. In Asia, elephants have smaller India-shaped ears. Meanwhile, in Africa, their huge ears are the shape of the whole continent.
African elephants can be found in almost every habitat from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope. Most common in the savannahs, elephants still inhabit a wide variety of landscapes. They can be found in the Saharan and Namibian deserts and the rainforests of Rwanda and Borneo. Unfortunately, their range has shrunk since they are now extinct in the Middle East, on the Indonesian island of Java, northern Africa, and most of China.
Earlier, I mentioned the usage of elephants for their ivory, but here’s a little more about this serious issue…
This isn’t anything new. For thousands of years, ivory has been prized and elephants have been killed for it. The Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamun was laid to rest around 1323BC on a headrest of ivory, while in nearby Syria elephants were more or less wiped out for their ivory by 500BC.
Around 20,000 African elephants were killed last year for their tusks. That is more than the number of elephants born! Chinese wealth is financing a hunger for ivory that threatens to bring an end to wild elephants within our lifetime in spite of the global ban on international trade (overseen by the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) the illegal ivory trade has exploded. Many believe that large amounts of ivory have also been bought and stored in secret warehouses by investors needing somewhere to hide money from the global downturn. Criminal gangs bribe officials to ship huge quantities of ivory through the ports to illicit factories and markets of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand in particular. In 2011, seizures hit a peak of 23 metric zones – 2,500 elephants. This is only a fraction of what makes it through undisturbed.
How to Help
- Help reduce the demand. That means no more advertising ivory and abolish this demand.
- Support the frontline defenders. Some examples of frontline defenders are Elephant Voices, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The International Elephant Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy, just to name a few.
- Protect the elephant habitats and prevent illegal killing.
- Don’t buy ivory, I mean that’s pretty obvious.
- Buy elephant-friendly coffee and wood.
- Support the conservation efforts.
- Be aware of the plight of captive elephants.
- Adopt an elephant.
One of my favorite quotes about elephants is as follows…
“No one in the world needs an elephant tusk but an elephant.”Thomas Schmidt
Adopting an elephant is something I truly plan to do when I am able, but if you can, it would help so much. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take home a cute elephant, protect it from the bad guys, and raise it as their own? Okay, so that’s unrealistic, but there are organizations that offer elephant adoptions so you get cute pictures of “your” elephant, and they get funding for their elephant conservation efforts. Isn’t that pretty cool? World Wildlife Foundation, World Animal Foundation, Born Free and Defenders of Wildlife all have adoption programs and are good places to start looking for that special pachyderm.