Mighty and majestic, yet used, abused and bordering on extinction.
Today is the 10th annual World Elephant Day, a day created to bring attention to the urgent crisis faced by Asian and African elephants.
Not only hunted for their prized ivory tusks, elephants face poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity. There are numerous organizations around the world working desperately to protect these magnificent creatures by preventing illegal poaching and shutting down the ivory trade, conserving elephants’ natural habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants, and when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries.
How dire is the plight of elephants? In the last decade, their numbers have dropped 62% and they could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. Approximately 100 elephants are killed each day by poachers on the hunt for ivory, meat and body parts. More elephants are killed each day for ivory than are being born. Mothers are killed leaving babies orphaned, many of which are then captured and sentenced to a life of service (hard labor) in tourism.
Possessing the largest brain of any land mammal, elephants are smart, sentient, social and empathetic. They create and maintain the ecosystems in which they live, and their demise will cause habitat chaos and weaken the structure and diversity of nature itself.
Did we mention that elephants, massive in size and powerfully strong, consume a plant-based diet?