Elephant Conservation and Anti Ivory Trade

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Elephant Conservation and Anti Ivory Trade

Bianca Gonzales, Author

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The elephant is the largest land mammal on earth weighing up to 8 tons and reaching heights up to 11 feet. Despite their mammoth stature, elephants are among the most vulnerable species on the planet. Once a familiar sight in both Africa and Asia, the number of elephants has severely depleted during the 20th and 21st century. While some populations are now stable, and growing, many of these magnificent creatures remain subject to conflict with humans, and habitat loss, but the most prevalent factor in their declining population is poaching, in their case, for the sake of ivory.

The famous tusks that elephants possess contain ivory, a highly sought after material that acts as a status symbol in many Asian countries, especially China. Because the demand of ivory has heightened, the population of elephants has severely declined. According to a study made by the Save the Elephants organization, between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory, negatively affecting the population of the species.  Along with causing elephant populations to severely decline, the ivory trade is fueling organized crime and insecurity as traffickers smuggle tusks through the same networks as other high value illegal goods such as drugs, making the trade harmful both to elephants and humans alike.

The lowering of the number of surviving elephants also negatively impacts nature because of their important role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live. Elephants directly influence forest composition and density, and can alter landscapes. In tropical forests, elephants create clearings and gaps in the canopy that encourage tree regeneration. In the savannas, they reduce bush cover to create an environment favorable to a wide variety of animals. Without elephants, major shifts that could ultimately be detrimental to ecosystems would occur.

Many have recognized how tragic the extinction of elephants would be to our planet, and as a result of that, many different organizations have risen in order to provide protection for such a magnificent species. Organizations such as World Wildlife, WWF, and Save the Elephants, STE, have made it their mission to preserve and protect the elephants. Both STE and WWF work with elephant range state governments, local people and non-governmental partners to assist their efforts to defend elephants against ivory poachers and traffickers. Despite all the astounding deeds these organizations have done to protect the elephants, they cannot continue their efforts without the help of individuals that recognize a need for change. Through donating to these organizations and raising awareness, you too can help build a future for this disappearing species.

Getty Images
HONG KONG – AUGUST 07: Ivory tusks seized by Hong Kong customs officials are displayed during a press conference on August 7, 2013 in Hong Kong. Customs officials at the Kwai Chung cargo examination compound seized the HK$41 million haul containing 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five pieces of leopard skin after searching a container declared as wood from Nigeria. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

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