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Raising Awareness of Elephant Conservation

World Elephant Day

World Elephant Day was founded in 2012 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark, and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of Thailand’s Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, and is celebrated on 12 August each year. The aim is to raise awareness of the challenges and threats facing these magnificent creatures in both Africa and Asia, and support conservation efforts. Patricia Sims continues to lead World Elephant Day, which is now supported by more than 100 wildlife organisations across the globe.

Although one of our most loved animals, human activity is the main cause of the threats that Elephants face – poaching and the ivory trade, habitat destruction, and conflict between elephants and humans continue to endanger their survival.

Poaching
Illegal poaching of Elephants for their ivory (as well as meat, leather, and other body parts) is perhaps the most well-publicised threat, particularly to African Elephants, but also to their Asian cousins. Sadly, despite decades of campaigning, the demand for ivory remains strong – pushing prices to a level higher than gold, which provides an irresistible incentive for some of the world’s poorest people.

Habitat Destruction
Elephants roam long distances in the search for food and water and require a large area to sustain them. The loss of habitat due to deforestation, mining, and agriculture has become a significant problem, especially for Asian elephants. The fragmentation of habitats into isolated areas restricts their movement, which makes breeding more difficult and allows poachers to find the Elephants more easily. Asian Elephants have already lost 30-40% of their habitat, making it incredibly difficult to maintain their populations.

Human-elephant Conflict
As human populations increase in areas where Elephants live, it becomes inevitable that they should come into conflict. Elephant herds displaced by habitat destruction are forced into close proximity with human settlements, and crop damage results from the Elephants’ search for food. Human, as well as Elephant, casualties can result from these encounters, and farmers can resort to lethal measures to protect themselves and their livelihoods.

Mistreatment in Captivity
Asian Elephants are often illegally captured and used in zoos, circuses, tourism, and logging. Elephants generally do not do well in captivity, but many of these animals are also mistreated – their ‘owners’ more concerned with profit than with their well-being.

What you can do
World Elephant Day draws attention to the conservation organisations and projects around the world that aim to protect Elephants and conserve their habitats. On World Elephant Day you can share your knowledge and concerns, and campaign for support for conservation programmes.

And if you wish to experience a close encounter with one of these spectacular animals, please ensure that it is in a non-exploitative and sustainable situation where the Elephants are well treated.

#WorldElephantDay

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