This Sunday 12th August is the inaugural World Elephant Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness for the preservation of both Asian and African elephant species.
Image courtesy of TheLizardQueen
Run in conjunction with the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, whose mission it is to rehabilitate and return domestic elephants to the wild, World Elephant Day encourages further preservation projects by the global community and aims to raise awareness for the elephant’s plight. It will premiere online the Return to the Forest documentary, narrated by actor William Shatner, and offers plenty of tips for how people can help elephants from home.
Why do elephants need conserving?
Once called ‘the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind’ by Aristotle, the Elephant’s natural habitat has been destroyed by deforestation and their numbers in the wild have been depleted by human interference. The elephant’s great tusks of ivory have been a significant cause for their overhunting which combined with a slow breeding cycle has led to dramatic reduction.
Human interaction exploiting elephants for working means such as war and, in more recent times, the tourism industry has put further strain on the species. Whilst elephants are protected in some part by western zoos, studies show these elephants’ life spans are halved compared to those living in protected areas or national parks.
Elephants as such are considered an endangered species needing protection in the wild and are safeguarded by both the African Elephant Conservation Act and the Endangered Species Act, although ongoing conservation efforts are necessary to ensure their survival.
Image taken on Frontier's South Africa Wildlife Conservation Volunteer
How can you help?
Visit the World Elephant Day website to sign their petition and view their documentary to learn more about the ongoing struggle of human-elephant conflict, as well as the work being done to conserve elephants in their natural habitat. ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ posts by World Elephant Day on Facebook and other social media to help raise awareness for the cause.
Alternatively, if you’re really keen, you could join a project dedicated to the preservation of the species and actively participate in elephant conservation. If you’re planning on taking some time abroad, think about including a placement where you could work on reserves across Africa and Asia helping locals with the daily care of elephants.
Working on a project, such as Frontier's Thailand Elephant Conservation is the perfect way to learn more about these humble and intelligent creatures - valuable knowledge you can use to help raise awareness back home.
- The oldest elephant on record was 82 years old
- The average speed of an elephant is 4 mph
- Elephants have the biggest brain of any terrestrial animal.
- Elephants have the longest pregnancy of any terrestrial animal at 22 months.
- Elephants spend roughly 16 hours a day eating
Return to the Forest trailer
By Maria Sowter