In The News

An Endangered Species Day letter

May 21, 2021

Dear Friends of Massachusetts for Elephants:

On this Endangered Species day, we join the thousands of people who are celebrating, recognizing, and taking action to protect endangered species locally and worldwide. There has never been a more urgent time to take action, and the efforts of all of us are needed to restore well-being to the planet. Species and ecosystems hang in the balance.

  • A new UN Report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that the current rate of global species extinction is “accelerating”, with biodiversity declining at a rate “unprecedented” in human history — “10 to 100 times higher compared to the average over the last 10 million years.”
  • Of the 134,425 assessed species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, more than 37,000 are threatened with extinction — a staggering 28% of assessed species.

In Africa and Asia, elephants in the wild are facing ever increasing dangers and threats to their existence. Elephants in captivity are not faring much better.

  • African Forest elephants are now listed as “critically endangered” and African Savannah elephants are listed as “endangered.”
  • The latest assessments by the IUCN Red List reported that the number of African Forest Elephants fell by “more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African Savanna Elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, due to poaching and habitat conversion.
  • There are only an estimated 48,323–51,680 Asian elephants and approximately 415,000 African elephants left in the wild.

While these findings are dire, it is not too late to take action and make a difference, but only, as IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson says, “ if we start now at every level from local to global.”

The recent recognition of African Forest elephants and African Savannah elephants as separate species opens the door to actions to address the distinct challenges faced by each species. Despite formidable threats, the belief among conservationists is that these designations will provide new opportunities for study and new resources to create a more vibrant future.

Think global. Act local: In Massachusetts, a bill to end the use of elephants, big cats, primates, giraffes, and bears in traveling exhibits and shows has again been introduced in the Legislature (S.2251/H.3376). A bill to end the trafficking of ivory and rhino horn has also been reintroduced (S.576/H.903). Each bill has attracted a promising number of co-sponsors and has been assigned to committee, the first step toward passage.

Your advocacy matters. Taking a few minutes to call or email your reps and members of the two joint committees could help convince our legislators that Massachusetts must join the other states that have listened to their constituents and made elephant protections and preserving the species a priority. Below are links to legislators’ contact information:

We believe that humans will not long thrive in a world where wildlife cannot flourish. Celebrate Endangered Species Day with us by committing to taking action to protect and restore endangered and threatened species.

Thank you.

Massachusetts for Elephants

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