Both face serious threats to their long-term survival, although the risks vary widely from place to place. Many elephant populations plummeted last century due to unsustainable hunting, largely fueled by demand for their ivory tusks. The need for water can already be a big challenge for elephants even under normal circumstances, but as the climate crisis fuels longer, drier droughts in many places, it can become all but impossible to find enough. There are now fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, raising the specter of extinction unless something can be done to save them. In general, elephants are one of the many endangered animal species that reflect the challenges in the resource optimization and resource integration for their conservation. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)—a global agreement among governments to regulate or ban international trade in species under threat—banned the international commercial trade in elephant ivory. World Elephant Day is recognized on August 12, an appeal to all global citizens to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face. Through this research, we are able to identify demographics of elephant ivory purchasers and consumers, understand their underlying motivations, and develop effective strategies to influence them. The seeds of many plant species in central African and Asian forests are dependent on passing through an elephant's digestive tract before they can germinate. We help community response teams to respond to instances of human-elephant conflict and work with communities to develop alternative livelihood opportunities to help minimize economic impacts from crop loss. Wild elephants need legal protection as well as parks and rangers with resources to enforce those laws, but it will be difficult to stop poaching without also addressing the demand for ivory that drives it. It is estimated there are around 350,000 elephants left in Africa, but approximately 10-15,000 are killed each year by poachers. Why are elephants endangered? They can also be used for defense. Though some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, human-elephant conflict, and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species. They use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings, greet other elephants, or suck up water for drinking or bathing, among other uses. The trading of their tusk. WWF works with various stakeholders—particularly wildlife managers and communities—to incorporate tools and technologies, such as electric fencing, deterrents, and other tools, to prevent potentially harmful encounters. WWF is working directly with these countries to support the closing of their elephant ivory markets and leverage international policy and diplomacy channels. Elephants help maintain forest and savanna ecosystems for other species and are integrally tied to rich biodiversity. Their populations declined by 62% between 2002-2011 and they have lost 30% of their geographical range, with African savanna elephants declining by 30% between 2007-2014. Sumatran elephants are in fact critically endangered. We are working with leading online retailers, social media platforms, tourism companies, and creative agencies. The family Elephantidae also contains several now-extinct groups, including the mammoths and straight-tusked elephants. Two genetically different African subspecies exist: the savanna and the forest elephant, with a number of characteristics that differentiate them both. African elephants are a good example. We also engage in efforts to educate communities that lead to behavior change that will minimize negative impacts. WWF works with TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network, to reduce the major threat that illegal and illicit domestic ivory markets pose to wild elephants. Asian elephants were less abundant to begin with, reportedly numbering about 200,000 a century ago, giving them even less of a buffer against population declines. Although significant elephant populations are now confined to well-protected areas, less than 20% of African elephant habitat is under formal protection. A big focus for WWF is also changing consumer behavior to reduce elephant ivory purchasing and create a new norm that elephant ivory is not socially acceptable. Female calves may stay with their maternal herd for the rest of their lives, while males leave the herd as they reach puberty. The demand for elephant ivory led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. African elephants are listed as threatened under the American Endangered Species Act because the species is at risk of extinction due to poaching for their tusks, which are sold on the black market. Over four and a half years, the Wildlife Crime Technology Project (WCTP) provided WWF a platform to innovate and test a number of innovative technologies, many of which have the potential to change the course of the global fight against wildlife crime. As a result, human-elephant conflict is rising as more and more elephants come into close contact with humans. In tropical forests, elephants create clearings and gaps in the canopy that encourage tree regeneration. WWF has been working since to reduce consumer demand for elephant ivory and ensure the ban is effectively enforced. Thirty Hills is one of the last places on Earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild. Elephantidae is the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; extinct members include the mastodons. Russell McLendon is a science journalist who covers a wide range of topics about the natural environment, humans, and other wildlife. Poaching and habitat loss are the major threats to African elephants today. As a result, as they lose habitat, they often come into conflict with people in competition for resources. Elephants play a pivotal role in shaping their habitat and directly influence forest composition and density, disperse seeds, and alter the broader landscape. ', 8 Incredible Animals Being Hunted Into Extinction, 11 Endangered Species That Are Still Hunted for Food, 6 Common Travel Activities That Hurt Animals, How Beehive Fences Help Elephants and Farmers, Cats Are Going Extinct: 12 Most Endangered Feline Species, Wild Giraffes Are Suffering a 'Silent Extinction', 13 Adorable Animals That Could Soon Be Gone From the Wild, dedicated to preserving these ancient creatures. Many small farmers can’t afford fences strong enough to keep out elephants, for example, but some now surround their crops with beehive fences, which take advantage of elephants’ natural fear of bees. Presently, less than 50,000 mature individuals have been reported living in the wild habitat and nearly 15,000 in captivity in the zoos. Elephants are endangered animals and that is a statement that all of us need to take very seriously. These are also known as Indian elephants and are now considered to be endangered as almost half of their population has declined in the past six or seven decades. ... And whilst law enforcement has failed in the past, on the other hand we have a history of curbing the demand for endangered species. Washington, DC 20037. Forest elephants, a distinct subspecies of African elephants, are uniquely adapted to the forest habitat of the Congo Basin, but are in sharp decline due to poaching for the international ivory trade. Elephant evolution. To reduce human-wildlife conflict in the long term, WWF works with governments and other stakeholders to address the root causes of human-elephant conflict, such as habitat loss and fragmentation and unplanned development. We advocate for large conservation landscapes like KAZA, which is located in southern Africa and is the largest terrestrial transboundary conservation area in the world. Elephants are important ecosystem engineers. The results of surveys undertaken by the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program—an international collaboration that measures the levels, trends, and causes of elephant mortality—provide important crucial information on elephant strongholds and poaching hotspots, thereby forming a base to support international decision-making related to conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa. Elephants are sensitive and complex social animals who seek the companionship of other elephants, preferably their own families. The main threat to both Asian and African elephants is a familiar one for wildlife around the world: loss and fragmentation of their habitat. African elephants are a keystone species, meaning they play a critical role in their ecosystem.Also known as "ecosystem engineers," elephants shape their habitat in many ways. Only some male Asian elephants have tusks, while both male and female African elephants grow tusks. African forest elephants have been the worst hit. Sign the pledge today. A herd can destroy a year’s harvest in one night, leading to understandable animosity among farmers, many of whom are nutritionally vulnerable and have little income to offset the loss. In Asia, on average, 70% of the wild elephant population lives outside protected areas. After campaigns by WWF and other conservation groups, governments in problematic ivory markets like Hong Kong, Thailand, the US and the UK were pushed to take action to clamp down on illegal and unregulated domestic trade that was fueling the poaching. 1250 24th Street, N.W. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Th… WWF is also working with a leading market research firm to conduct annual surveys of consumers to better understand consumer attitudes and desire for elephant ivory so that we can change social norms around ivory and reduce demand. An elephant footprint can also enable a micro-ecosystem that, when filled with water, can provide a home for tadpoles and other organisms. Unlike their Asian and African elephant counterparts in West and central Africa, as well as in a couple of Eastern African countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique, that all have experienced dramatic decreases in their populations, some major populations in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have remained stable or are increasing. WWF and partners secure protection for critical rain forest in Sumatra. The African elephant was long hunted for their ivory tusks, which was a sought after material for many uses. Why elephants are endangered Humans are to blame for the endangered status of elephants; the two main causes are hunting and habitat loss. Michelle Gadd [public domain]/USFWS/Flickr. In addition, the African elephant population is at risk due to loss of habitat when mankind moves into the elephant's range. Three species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. This often leads to elephants destroying crops and property, as well as occasional human casualties. There are two recognized species of elephants, the African elephant (Lexodonta Africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). WWF trains rangers in elephant monitoring and antipoaching techniques and works with communities to manage and reduce conflict with elephants. Of … Despite international efforts to control the ivory trade and stop the decline of elephant populations, prices and demand for ivory remain high, resulting in continued poaching of elephants for their tusks. View our inclusive approach to conservation, CITES, WWF and TRAFFIC Release New Guide to Identify Smuggled Ivory, Demand Under the Ban: China Ivory Consumption Research 2019, Ivory Trade in Japan: A Comparative Analysis, China’s Ivory Market after the Ivory Trade Ban in 2018 from TRAFFIC, Factsheet: Demand under the Ban – China Ivory Consumption Research. It is calculated that at least a third of tree species in central African forests rely on elephants in this way for distribution of seeds. We support efforts to determine the population status of elephants in sites across Africa and Asia to make our conservation projects more effective. Addressing complex issues like human-wildlife conflict requires approaches that not only reduce the immediate impacts of negative interactions but also addresses the drivers and root causes of the conflict. These negative interactions can result in the retaliatory killing of elephants. And as more and more Chinese travel internationally—nearly 200 million Chinese tourists travel abroad each year—incidents of elephant ivory smuggling are on the rise. The African elephant is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 but is not listed as endangered. According to the Red List maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Loxodonta africana … That is another focus for conservationists, who scored an important victory in 2017 when China ended its legal ivory trade. TRAFFIC also manages a global record of ivory seizures, called the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), that helps to identify routes and countries of particular importance in illegal trade. Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth and have distinctly massive bodies, large ears, and long trunks. Asian elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists African elephants as vulnerable. According to the statistics provided, nearly 10,000 wild elephants are killed each year only for ivory trading, with China being the highest consumer around the globe. Community and government rangers and game guards help protect endangered species like elephants and WWF helps train and equip them. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks and each individual can either be left- or right-tusked, and the one they use more is usually smaller because of wear and tear. In this transboundary landscape, WWF works to protect and enable movement of the elephant population, of which the population on the Vietnam side is significant and the largest remaining wild elephant population in the country. This sometimes leads to retaliatory killings of elephants, interactions that are dangerous for everyone involved. For example, Asian elephants are smaller than their African cousins, and their ears are smaller compared to the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. Elephant Poaching Declines in Africa, but 15,000 Still Illegally Killed Each Year, 5 Startling Statistics About Elephants on World Elephant Day, Elephants Are Worth 76 Times More Alive Than Dead, Elephants May Have a Specific Alarm Call for 'Human! Several … As more farms appear in forests and savannas where elephants are accustomed to roaming, their crops often become easy targets for hungry elephants. Make a symbolic African elephant adoption to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction and support WWF's conservation efforts. But their habitat is shrinking and Asian elephants are now endangered. As keystone species, they help maintain biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit. Endangered Species Act (ESA). These extended teeth can be used to protect the elephant's trunk, lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. China's elephant ivory ban is a historic milestone in the ongoing effort to save an iconic species. WWF helps establish new protected areas within elephant ranges and improve management effectiveness within existing protected areas. They are also play a critical role in maintaining the region's forests. Let's read on to find out more about these interesting creatures. WWF has advocated for an end to commercial elephant ivory sales in the US and other major markets like China, Thailand, and Hong Kong as the most effective and efficient solution to end this illegal ivory trade. On top of occupying and altering elephant habitats, people also commonly plant food crops there. Based on the slight morphological differences, they are further divided int… They ingest plants and fruits, walk for miles, and excrete the seeds in fertile dung piles. WWF works with elephant range state governments, local people, and non-governmental partners to secure a future for this keystone species by thinking beyond protected areas. For large, migratory animals like elephants, the key is not just protecting isolated pockets of habitat, but also linking those pockets into large-scale wildlife corridors. They have suffered from intensive hunting for the ivory of their tusks and as trophies. Despite a ban on ivory trade in 1990 illegal poaching is still a problem in some African regions. Yet the number of them in the wild continues to plummet at an alarming rate. Asian elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists African elephants as vulnerable. Elephants are also losing their habitats and ancient migratory routes due to expanding human settlements into their habitat, agricultural development, and the construction of infrastructure such as roads, canals, and fences that fragment their habitat. Many elephants also face additional dangers, though, including both direct and indirect conflict with people. African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago to some 400,000. In 1978, the African elephant was listed as Threatened under the U.S. This dramatic decline has continued and even accelerated with cumulative losses of up to 90% in some landscapes between 2011 and 2015. Led by a matriarch, elephants are organized into complex social structures of females and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation or in small bachelor groups. Based on the previous two status reports, the African Elephant's conservation status currently is listed as Vulnerable, which means it faces a high risk of endangerment in the wild. Asian and African elephants are listed as endangered species. Elephants are among the most intelligent and social of animals, and their numbers in Africa have fallen from a pre-industrial high of 10 million to … But with China’s markets closed, markets elsewhere remain open and continue to attract consumers. At the borders of Cambodia and Vietnam, WWF works with park staff to patrol protected areas and assess elephant distribution and numbers. Several million African elephants roamed across the continent as recently as the early 20th century, but today only about 350,000 remain. African elephantshave larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants hav… The African elephant is the largest of all elephant species and weighs up to eight tons. Their tusks are worth a lot of money on the black market, so large-tusked males are in constant danger of being poached. The real game changer is China—by far the largest market for elephant ivory—which banned domestic trade of elephant ivory as of January 1, 2018. It can also limit genetic diversity by isolating populations from each other. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, various factors affect the condition and survival of their remaining population. Elephants are also captured alive for domestic use, such as tourist attractions. Stand with WWF. Although poaching of African elephants has fallen slightly since a peak in 2011, it remains a significant danger, especially combined with the many other threats facing elephant populations. Asian elephants differ in several ways from their African relatives, with more than 10 distinct physical differences between them. Strong partnerships are already in place with the travel and e-commerce sectors, with commitments to avoid promoting, handling, or selling elephant ivory. Many efforts have been made to outlaw hunting elephants for their tusks, but poaching still occurs on a … Elephants need extensive land areas to survive and meet their ecological needs, which includes food, water, and space. Their habitats are increasingly shrunken and fragmented by agriculture, logging, roads, and development for residential or commercial use. In recent years, at least 20,000 elephants have been killed in Africa each year for their tusks. They are enormous animals and one that many cultures hold in high regard. On average, an elephant can feed up to 18 hours and consume hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day. Humans are encroaching on elephants in Africa as well as Asia, but the pressure is especially severe for Asian elephants. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. Human-elephant conflict leads not only to negative interactions and loss of income, property, and lives, but also reduces community tolerance for conserving elephants. But the fate of elephants is also more broadly linked to the human communities around them, since people with enough legal opportunities to support their families might be less likely to resort to poaching for income. Scientists classify all Asian elephants as a single species, and while the same is often done with African elephants, genetic evidence suggests Africa really has two separate species: savanna elephants and forest elephants. With a life span of 70-80 years, elephants will grieve and mourn when a herd member dies and elephants have been observed visiting the bones of deceased herd members and touching these with their trunks. Though some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, human-elephant conflict, and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species. Poaching rates dropped following the action, but began to surge again around 2010, due to renewed consumer interest in purchasing elephant ivory, largely in Asia. They make pathways in dense forested habitat that allow passage for other animals. And where farmers clash with elephants on the fringes of their remaining habitat, conservationists are trying a variety of creative techniques to help both creatures coexist. All elephants need lots of water, a thirst that drives much of their migratory behavior and daily activities. The largest of all land beasts, elephants are thundering, trumpeting six-tonne monuments to the wonder of evolution. As a consumer, anyone can support the effort to save elephants simply by never buying anything containing ivory. … Park rangers are on the front lines against armed poachers, and more resources are always needed to protect elephants across huge expanses of space. Asian elephant numbers have dropped by at least 50% over the last three generations, and they’re still in decline today. Today, the greatest threat to African elephants is wildlife crime, primarily poaching for the illegal ivory trade, while the greatest threat to Asian elephants is habitat loss, which results in human-elephant conflict.
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