In honor of World Elephant Day that just passed on August 12, 2014, I thought writing an article explaining why it is so important we save elephants from extinction would be a good way to honor this special day. They definitely have a tough battle ahead. Poachers and illegal wild animal traffickers have not made the fight for survival easy.The SOS Elephants website states that elephants play a major role in African ecosystems. Aside from being highly intelligent with complex social structures, they are considered a keystone species, which means they play a key role in maintaining balance of all other species in that community. For example, elephants pull down trees and break up thorny bushes which helps create grasslands for other animals to survive. Elephants, also, create salt licks that are rich in nutrients for other animals. In addition to digging waterholes in dry river beds that other animals can use as a water source, their foot prints create deep holes that water can collect in. Elephant dung is important to the environment, as well. Baboons and birds pick through the dung for undigested seeds and nuts and the dung beetles reproduce in these deposits. The nutrient-rich manure replenishes depleted soils so humans can have nutrient rich soil to plant crops in. On top of all this, elephant dung is also a vehicle for seed dispersal. Some seeds will not germinate unless they have passed through an elephant’s digestive system.
So, we see how important elephants are to our planet and really to our survival, in big picture terms. Why then are they dying at such an alarming rate? Two words, Blood Ivory, which at the root, is action driven by the monetary system. You can read more about ivory trade and just how much poachers make from it in our article entitled, “How Illegal Poaching and Animal Trafficking Affects Everyone!”
Bryan Christy in National Geographic writes, “January 2012 a hundred raiders of horseback charged out of Chad into Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidah National Park, slaughtering hundreds of elephants — entire families — in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision reminiscent of a 2006 butchering outside Chad’s Zakouma National Park. And then some stopped to pray to Allah. Seen from the ground, each of the bloated elephant carcasses is a monument to human greed. Elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years.” He states, thousands of elephants die each year so their tusks can be carved into religious objects. Can the slaughter be stopped? Mr. Christy makes good points in his article.
The million dollar question is how can WE stop this? If selling ivory was illegal, would a black market live on? Poaching is illegal but it still happens, so would more laws actually work? Read more about our systems and the behaviors derived from them in our recent article, “Do Our Systems Create a Sustainable Future For a Booming Population?”
The situation is dire, says John Calvelli, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society in an nbc.com article. After the success in New Jersey and New York, Calvelli said, the effort to enact state bans will focus on Illinois, Florida, California and Connecticut — states with large populations and ports. But it would be next year before any action could be taken. In the meantime, the average person can help, he said. “Take the pledge that you’re not going to buy ivory. This would be a really good first step.”Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who founded Save the Elephants, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the African elephant. He pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park at age 23. You can see he is well accomplished and well respected in the field on the site’s bio page. Save the Elephants’ success is due to the wide diversity of talents that have come together to fight for a future for the elephants. The organization, founded 20 years ago, has always combined world-leading scientific minds with the unrivaled experience and deep, intuitive knowledge of African cultures that have long co-existed with elephants.
We can all make a difference, whether it’s big or small, and help the elephant’s survival on our planet. Now that you have read this, will you make the pledge and help? Here are three easy ways: