12th of August marks #WorldElephantDay2021

Picture Source: Unsplash / James Hammond 

Today the 12th of August 2021 marks World Elephant Day and it has certainly gained some momentum on social media (especially Twitter). The reason behind the celebration of this day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. 

African elephants are listed as "Vulnerable" and Asian elephants as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

The current population estimates of elephants are said to be about 400,000 for African Elephants and around 40,000 for the Asiatic elephants. Many argue that these estimate numbers are too high and figures may be lower. 

Many factors have led to the declines in elephant population around the world but the main issues are summarised below: 
  1. Poaching: The demand for ivory, especially from the Chinese market leads to the illegal poaching of both African and Asian elephants. Along with the ivory trade, elephants are illegally poached for meat, leather, and body parts putting elephants in increasing danger from the illegal wildlife trade.
  1. Habitat Loss: Deforestation, increasing mining, and agricultural activities have become a problem, especially for the Asiatic elephant. Fragmentation of habitats has increased elephants to isolation, making it very difficult to breed. This leads them to the illegal wildlife trade where poachers set traps easily.  Asiatic elephants have lost nearly 30 - 40% of their habitat, which makes it very difficult for themselves and their offspring to survive. 
  1. Mistreatment in Captivity: Lack of legislation in place for care and treatment of elephants in zoos, circuses, and tourism often leads to their mistreatment. Captivity can be a serious threat to elephants, the Asiatic elephants are often captured in the wild and trafficked into the lucrative tourism industry.      
  1. Human-Elephant Conflicts: One of the biggest concerns - as human population numbers increase and forest cover decreases, forcing elephants to close proximity to human settlements. Incidents include crop damage and economic losses which lead to human and elephant casualties.   

It was great to see the amount of awareness created on social media on #WorldElephantDay2021 and I have embedded a few tweets below: 

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