Elephants are highly intelligent, social, sentient animals. In the wild, they spend their lives with their maternal herd community and females share upbringing and parental duties. They communicate with each other and demonstrate affection through a wide variety of sounds and trunk movements. They have no natural enemies and have even been observed exhibiting altruistic behavior. Elephants are known for their exceptional memories. They forge life-long bonds that do not diminish over time or with separation. They love and even mourn their dead.
Elephants are part of our global heritage and our story. Children all over the world learn that “E is for Elephant.” Yet at the current rate of decline, elephants will be extinct in the wild in the lifetimes of today’s kindergartners.
These amazing animals are under a worldwide threat from increasing loss of habitat, unceasing illegal poaching, and exploitation by entertainment and tourism industries. Humans endanger elephants through direct action (poaching, trophy hunting, ivory trade, etc.) and indirect (agriculture, industrial development, and habitat destruction). We must act now to save these magnificent animals, the planet, and ourselves. And there are steps we can take in Massachusetts now.
Hard Facts on Why to Act Now
- Worldwide, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes
- In Africa, approximately 96 elephants are killed every day for their ivory
- An estimated 35,000 African elephants were killed every year from 2010 to 2013
- The population of African elephants has dropped from more than twenty million in 1890 to fewer than 450,000 today
- Since 1989, African elephants have been listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Due to human/elephant conflicts, Asian elephants are critically endangered with only 20,000–25,000 left in the wild.
- The United States is the world’s second largest market for ivory; traded through auction houses, antique shops, shops in large cities, and online sales.
- Massachusetts ranks 4th among states
- Countries in Asia remain the biggest market for ivory where it is viewed as a status symbol
Elephants face many human-caused and created threats to their existence. According to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, these have decimated elephant populations in Africa by an alarming 70% since 1979. These threats include:
- Poaching for Ivory
- Trophy Hunting
- Human & Elephant Confrontations
- Rapidly Dwindling Habitats
- Climate Change
Most illegal ivory available in the world today comes from African elephants. Male Asian elephants also face the threat of poaching for their tusks. And the increasing trade in elephant skin used for jewelry threatens all male and female elephants.
The ivory trade funds terrorist organizations, militias, and criminal cartels. It destabilizes Africa and negatively affects the entire world. Massachusetts is reported to have a “brisk” ivory trade, in part because of our many antiques shops and auctions.