Day 224 – When we think of elephants, I know many of us picture them in far off lands, in parts of the world we’ll never have the chance to visit. So, when it comes to saving them, we might think there is no opportunity to help these big, beautiful animals. Thankfully, the organizers of World Elephant Day has shared a list of ways in which we can help protect these magnificent creatures.
- Do not buy ivory or other wildlife products. Be an elephant aware consumer. Only 12 states have banned the sale of ivory. In 2016, the U.S. passed a near total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory but states regulate commerce within their borders. The U.S. is one of the largest importers of wildlife products, including trophies of animals killed in hunts and products made from skins of endangered species.
- Study elephants in their “keystone” role in the environment and interrelationships with plants and other animals because all of nature is interconnected. As the largest of all land mammals, elephants play an important role in balancing natural ecosystems. They trample forests and dense grasslands, making room for smaller species to co-exist. Elephants also create water holes used by other wildlife as they dig dry riverbeds when rainfall is low. Herds travel over vast rangelands, and they disperse seeds in their dung, which helps generate new green growth.
- Learn about and support organizations that are working to protect habitat for wild elephants and finding solutions for human-elephant conflict. Elephants are increasingly being crowded out of their habitats. Humans are encroaching these lands for farming and infrastructural development, which leaves elephants with small patches of disconnected land.
- Support organizations that are working to stop the illegal poaching and trade of elephant ivory and other wildlife products. Few people know that 96 elephants are poached each day. At this rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade. Losing these important ecosystem engineers will be of extreme detriment to the environment and beyond. If the elephants go extinct, entire ecosystems could follow.
- Support organizations that are building natural sanctuaries and alternative habitat for domesticated elephants to live freely. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being.
- Support healthy, alternative, sustainable livelihoods for people who have traditionally relied on elephants, wild animals and natural resources. Learn about indigenous cultures that have traditionally lived in harmony with elephants.
- Visit elephants in countries where they live in the wild – tourism benefits the economy, provides needed jobs, deters poachers and abuse, and gives you the opportunity to experience the beauty, intelligence, and emotional capacity of these magnificent giants. Here is a list of the 10 best places to see elephants. I
- f you wish to experience elephants in their natural environment, choose eco-tourism operators who support local elephant conservation projects and who treat elephants with respect and dignity.
- Be aware of elephant habitat. Do not buy coffee that is not fair-trade or shade-grown, nor products with unsustainable palm-oil. These commercial crops are grown in plantations that have decimated elephant habitats. Only buy wood products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests – the natural habitat for elephants and other wildlife.
- Use your love of elephants and World Elephant Day, August 12, to start a conversation with the next person you meet.
We can not all be like Kelly Lyee Chigumbura, a member of the all female wildlife ranger group, called Akashinga, ‘the Brave Ones’ in Shona. Chigumbura now spends her days protecting her country’s most vulnerable citizens: the wildlife. “When I manage to stop poachers, I feel accomplished,” she says. “I want to spend my whole life here on this job, arresting poachers and protecting animals.”
So, on this World Elephant Day, consider helping these precious Pachyderms.
Tomorrow, Clorox wipes that are good for the planet.