World Elephant Day was this week, on the 12th of August. This commemorative day is a fairly new one, only being established in 2012, and that’s probably why you didn’t know about it. However, it’s a day that we should all know given that it’s the only day these gentle giants are entitled to our not-so-gentle human attention. Patricia Sims, a co-founder of World Elephant Day, describes the day as follows, “World Elephant Day is a rallying call for people to support organizations that are working to stop the illegal poaching and trade of elephant ivory and other wildlife products, protect wild elephant habitat, and provide sanctuaries and alternative habitats for domestic elephants to live freely.”
So why do these creatures need our help?
There are two species of elephants, Asian and African. Asian elephants have been formally classified as endangered and African elephants are in severe jeopardy of becoming endangered. The biggest culprit for this is the illegal ivory trade. Despite the ban of ivory trade in 1989 by the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species, the most ivory in the last 25 years, was confiscated in 2013. The persistence in ivory trade despite the criminality of it is due to the how profitable the trade is. The street value of an elephant tusk is +/- 15 000 US Dollars, that’s R203 109, that’s R409 218 for two elephant tusks, that’s almost R500 000 per elephant.
Why should we help elephants?
In case we need more reasons to contribute to saving the elephants than how completely beautiful they are. Here’s some of those reasons:
- Elephants, specifically African elephants, attract tourists. Tourism is great for any economy as it attracts investment from international parties and incentivises development locally.
- When there are droughts or there is a particularly dry season, elephants use their tusks to dig for water below the ground. This ultimately ends up providing water for other animals that don’t have the capacity to find water in harsh conditions themselves.
- Elephants eat the sprouts of plants in savannas and help to keep it flat. This is beneficial as there are many animals that inhabit those savannas and require it to stay flat for their survival.
- Elephants leave traces of dung in many places, leaving a compost that helps stimulate the ecosystem.
- Look how cute this baby elephant is:
What can you do to help the elephants?
- Help to generate awareness.
Lots of people don’t know how much danger elephants are in, the more people who know about it, the more action will take place. So share this article, write your own articles, make a status, and use the FaceTweetGoogle for good.
- Join the World Elephant Day organisation, keep up with what’s being done, and be available to help when the opportunity comes up.
- Get involved in an internship with Save the Elephants.
- Donate money to any of these organisations that work with elephant conservation:
One of my favourite South African books is called The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and he said something that upon reading it, made clear humans’ obligation to care for other beings.
“But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.”