The Future of Elephants is in Our Hands
This World Wildlife Day (March 3rd 2016) is a time to celebrate and raise awareness of the link between people, wildlife and sustainable development. This year the theme ‘the future of wildlife is in our hands’ focusses on the plight of African and Asian elephants.
Poaching and Illicit Trafficking in Africa
The illicit trafficking of wildlife has boomed in recent years, making it the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking. Today, this industry is worth over $20 billion per year.
The poaching and trafficking of lions, pangolins, rhino horn and elephant tusks has become so prevalent that it is now considered to be a major threat to international security, local communities, and of course, the animals themselves.
Every day an estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking to sell ivory, meat and body parts to the Asian market. As a result, only 400,000 African elephants are estimated to remain in the wild with these levels continuously declining.
But their future is in our hands. Support organisations that are working to stop illegal poaching and make sure you choose an eco-tourism operator who supports local elephant conservation projects and who treat elephants with respect.
Travel responsibly: Kenya Walking Safari
Habitat Loss and Tourism in Asia
While some Asian elephants are poached for their tusks, the biggest threat to the Asian elephant is habitat loss in some of the most densely human populated areas in the world. As more and more of their habitat is destroyed for development, road construction, or to make way for palm oil and rubber tree plantations.
As they are forced into contact with humans, they are often killed while their babies are captured for work in the tourism industry. After capture, the baby elephants go through the ‘crush’ where they are put into a small cage or stall and abused until their spirit is broken. They are then considered tame enough for tourists to ride, to learn how to paint or play soccer, as well as many other activities in the tourist industry.
Sadly, today less than 40,000 Asian elephants are left in the wild and they are now considered an endangered species.
But their future is in our hands. Avoid products that contribute to the destruction of elephant habitat, such as non-fair trade coffee or palm oil products. When visiting Asia, make sure you don’t support organisations that contribute to the exploitation of elephants for entertainment or profit. Instead, support local eco-tourism operators who promote elephant conservation, such as Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
This World Wildlife Day, help raise awareness of the plight of elephants around the world. Their future is in our hands.
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