- “Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before.”
- “Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day.”
- Countdown to extinction: 11 years.
- August 12, 2014 is World Elephant Day
Wild elephants in Africa will be extinct by 2025 unless something is done to stop the wholesale slaughter they currently endure.
Shot, poisoned, snared or speared, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes – their faces and tusks sawed off, their bodies left to rot, their babies left to starve. That is the message of the iworry campaign, and it is a situation that each of us can help change.
According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:
Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before. Poachers are taking these animals, sometimes in unimaginably high numbers, and using the weapons of war to efficiently kill large herds of wild, innocent animals.
Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day. It’s not just animals lives at risk, in the last 10 years, 1,000* rangers were killed protecting wildlife in the “war” against poachers.
The profits from wildlife trafficking are being traced to terrorist groups whilst in turn poses an increased threat to national and economic stability. Wildlife crime is said to be valued at approximately $17 billion.
* The Thin Green Line Foundation
We are at risk of losing a species that we are just beginning to understand, and as a marine mammal biologist I can’t help but be struck at their similarity to cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Elephants communicate over long distances using sound that we can’t hear, they have complex social lives, the female calves remain with their mothers for life while the young males leave when they are sexually mature (around 14 years old or so). The herd shares in the responsibility of taking care of the babies, and knowledge is passed down from the matriarch to her offspring.
They are very emotional, and researchers have discovered that they possess the same kind of specialized brain cells that are associated with emotion and found in few other species studied so far – a list which includes humans, gorillas, and some species of dolphins and whales.
Daphne Sheldrick, has written a touching biography of the elephants she has known, and reading her page is a highly enjoyable experience. Here is an excerpt:
Is it because of their size, their quaint characteristics, or the fact that they are so incredibly endearing as babies, tripping over little wobbly trunks that seem to serve no useful purpose other than get in the way? Or is it, perhaps, because Elephants are “human” animals, encompassed by an invisible aura that reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way.
Of course, Elephants share with us humans many traits – the same span of life, (three score years and ten, all being well) and they develop at a parallel pace so that at any given age a baby elephant duplicates its human counterpart, reaching adulthood at the age of twenty. Elephants also display many of the attributes of humans as well as some of the failings.
They share with us a strong sense of family and death and they feel many of the same emotions. Each one is, of course, like us, a unique individual with its own unique personality. They can be happy or sad, volatile or placid. They display envy, jealousy, throw tantrums and are fiercely competitive, and they can develop hang-ups which are reflected in behaviour.
They also have many additional attributes we humans lack; incredible long-range infrasound, communicating in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and, of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime.
They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy.
…Animals are indeed more ancient, more complex, and in many ways more sophisticated than man. In terms of Nature they are truly more perfect because they remain within the ordered scheme of Nature and live as Nature intended. They are different to us, honed by natural selection over millennia so they should not be patronised, but rather respected and revered. And of all the animals, perhaps the most respected and revered should be the Elephant, for not only is it the largest land mammal on earth, but also the most emotionally human.
What you can do – the following links are packed with information:
Sign the iworry petition, also see about direct donations, fostering the babies, and sharing the plight on social media.
Check World Elephant Day for information.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with a little poking around on this site you will find ways to specifically donate to anything from desks for schools (to educate the locals) to sponsoring programs.
The Serengeti Foundation funnels donations to Asian elephant issues, wild horses in the USA, and to the Sheldrick foundation in Africa (where they paid for waterholes to be dug, to remove wildlife from regions known to poachers.
The situation is different for Asian elephants, but it is equally troubling. A good site to check is Wildlife SOS.
In the US, find out what is being done by the government to stop the ivory trade:
FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory
Copy and print the following, and distribute however you think it will be helpful: