Elephants are endangered animals and that is a statement that all of us need to take very seriously. They are enormous animals and one that many cultures hold in high regard. Yet the number of them in the wild continues to plummet at an alarming rate. It is going to take educating the public, plenty of aggressive conservation efforts, arresting poachers, and protecting the natural habitat of these animals if we are going to help them to survive.
There are a couple of main reasons why elephants are endangered – illegal killing of them and the destruction of their habitat. Most elephants are illegally killed to take their ivory tusks. They are sold for an unbelievable amount of money which makes engaging in that activity so enticing. These elephants are killed, the tusks removed, and the bodies left to rot. It is a very sad scene to come upon for those that are working hard to bring the elephants back from the brink of extinction.
The other main problem for elephants is that their natural habitat is being wiped out. They aren’t being able to roam as they once did to find the volume of food that they have to have each day. As a result many of them are starving to death which is really a sad fate for them. As more of their natural areas continue to be depleted they find they are stuck trying to fight for the little bit of food that happens to be present. Even though they can travel large distances to find food, without it for too long and they will be weak and not able to travel.
In many areas of the world, elephants are held in high regard. However, there are also plenty of others out there where they are considered a nuisance. Many villagers of Africa would love to see them dead so that they aren’t eating fruits and other items that they would like to have for their own people to be able to eat and to survive from.
For many the thrill of hunting such an amazing animal is a huge thrill. They will pay large sums of money to go on hunting safaris. These are often lead by people in the villages that know exactly where the elephants will be. While such activities are often deemed illegal, the laws aren’t strictly enforced and so the process continues to be one that people take part in.
The fact that it takes the females up to 22 months to have a single baby is difficult when you are trying to increase the elephant populations. Since the females don’t mate until they are about 14 years of age, those that are killed before that never get the chance to help bring those offspring into the world. With the males, they are about 40 to 50 when they are mating.
Yet these older elephants have the longer tusks that poachers are after and that is why they are also being killed. These older elephants though are the ones with the strongest genetics. It is important for them to breed so that they offspring created will be very strong and healthy. When you have to start using poor genetics for mating then it can result in serious health concerns for the elephants as a whole.
Since it is due to humans that elephants are currently endangered, then it is only fitting that we are the ones to help them get those numbers back up. You can go online to find out more about such efforts in place. You can learn what the objectives are for the different conservation groups and to find out how you can contribute to their efforts.
Ed Couzens. Whales and Elephants in International Conservation Law and Politics: A Comparative Study. Routledge, 2013.