Elephant photo via Shutterstock
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, is the third annual World Elephant Day, a day when people come together to honor elephants, to spread awareness about the critical threats they are facing, and to support positive solutions that will help ensure their survival. Within our lifetimes, elephants may face global extinction in the wild. World Elephant Day was launched on August 12, 2012, by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation and Canadian documentary filmmaker Patricia Sims.
The survival odds for the world’s elephants are increasingly grim. During the past four years, poaching for ivory has surged to unprecedented levels. It is estimated that 100 African elephants are slaughtered daily for the illegal wildlife trade. According to a June 2014 report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 20 percent of Africa’s elephants may be killed in the next ten years if poaching continues at current levels. Others believe that all African elephants may be extinct in the wild by 2025. It is estimated that fewer than 400,000 African elephants remain. There are less than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world, making their official status “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Asian elephants face extensive loss of habitat, and are also killed for their ivory, meat, and body parts, while young elephants are removed from their natural environment for use in the tourism industry.
World Elephant Day supporters can act in a multitude of ways, both locally and globally, to help protect elephants from the devastating impacts of poaching, the destruction of wilderness, the demand for ivory, human population growth and human-elephant conflict, and the social, economic, and environmental factors that fuel this tragic situation.
World Elephant Day encourages individuals and organizations worldwide to take action, spread awareness, and share effective ways to help save and protect elephants, and support the many commendable elephant conservation initiatives.
What you can do
There are many ways people can get involved to help elephants and raise awareness on World Elephant Day, and year-round.
- Support organizations that are working to: stop the illegal poaching and trade of elephant ivory and other wildlife products; protect wild elephant habitat; and provide sanctuaries and alternative habitats for domesticated elephants to live freely.
- If you wish to experience elephants in their natural environment, choose eco-tourism operators who support local elephant conservation projects and who treat elephants with respect and dignity.
- Support healthy, alternative, sustainable livelihoods for people who have traditionally relied on elephants, wild animals, and natural resources.
- Support orphaned elephants by fostering one whose parents have been killed by poachers.
- Learn about indigenous cultures that have traditionally lived in harmony with elephants.
- Be an elephant-aware consumer. Never buy ivory or other wildlife products.
- Support a U.S. national ban on the sale of ivory. Contact your representatives and write to your country’s leaders, supporting national and local legislation to ban the sale of ivory.
- Do not support organizations that exploit or abuse elephants and other animals for entertainment and profit. Learn more at http://worldelephantday.org/
What organizations are doing on World Elephant Day
- Conservation Action Trust, Wilderness Safaris, and Africa Geographic are holding a photography competition for the best African elephant photo, with the grand prize of a four-day trip in Kruger National Park.
- 96 Elephants is celebrating World Elephant Day with a variety of activities, including having zoos throughout the U.S. sending some 96,000 messages to legislators in support of an ivory ban. 96 Elephants is asking people to take “elphies” using the phrase “Go Grey for World Elephant Day” and to post images on social media using the hashtag #GoGrey. 96 Elephants is also organizing a “Thunderclap” where people can sign up on Twitter to send a simultaneous Tweet on World Elephant Day. During the day, @TheWCS and@96Elephants will tweet out 96 facts about elephants (one every 15 minutes). To learn more about 96 Elephants and World Elephant Day, visit 96elephants.org\WED.
- In August the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is launching an exclusive website focused on the beauty of elephants and packed full of ways for people to take action for elephants on August 12 and beyond. Keep an eye onsheldrickwildlifetrust.org and facebook.com/thedswt for more news about the site.
- Bodhi Tree Foundation’s S.A.F.E. Campaign will be celebrating World Elephant Day by showcasing unique African travel itineraries and safaris offered by several of its travel partners, enabling travelers to get up close and personal with elephants in the wild while aiding in their conservation. Its partners will be contributing a portion of the proceeds to the S.A.F.E. Campaign while offering additional special promotions on World Elephant Day. For more information, visit: saveafricaselephants.com/get-
- In South Africa, Save the Elephants is constructing a gigantic cardboard elephant and holding a raffle for a beautiful elephant photograph.
- Thirty U.S. zoos, including the El Paso Zoo and the Toledo Zoo, will hold World Elephant Day events, and 42 zoos will deliver petitions and kids’ drawings to their state’s governors, asking them to act to protect elephants.
- Many other individuals and organizations are promoting action on behalf of elephants on World Elephant Day, including Hard Rock Café, Do Something,Ivory for Elephants, and many others. Please see the full list of associates on World Elephant Day at www.worldelephantday.org/
associates, and check the Events page at www.worldelephantday.org/ events, where events are being added daily.
Get involved with World Elephant Day on social media
- Follow World Elephant Day on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/
- Follow World Elephant Day on Twitter: http://twitter.com/
- Follow World Elephant Day on Instagram: http://instagram.com/
- Share a World Elephant Day banner on your Facebook page
- Tweet your support of elephants with our tailored tweets leading up to and on World Elephant Day
- Check out the World Elephant Day site for social media tools and more ideas
- Use #WorldElephantDay hashtags: #worldelephantday #gogrey
About World Elephant Day and its founders
World Elephant Day was launched on August 12, 2012, by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation (ERF), a charitable nonprofit organization based in Thailand, and Patricia Sims, president, producer, and director of CanazWest Pictures Inc., a Canadian-based independent film production company. The ERF was founded in 2002 as a Royal initiative of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand. The Elephant Reintroduction Foundation manages three forest sanctuaries in Thailand where, so far, 93 formerly captive elephants have been successfully released back into natural habitat. Patricia Sims and co-filmmaker Michael Clark have created numerous award-winning films together, and their documentary Return to the Forest was released worldwide on the first World Elephant Day, August 12, 2012. Narrated by actor William Shatner, the film depicts the work of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation to return captive Asian elephants back to the wild. Sims and Clark will release their new feature-length film,Elephants Never Forget, this winter. Filmed in Thailand, it is the story of a young man and his elephant who share a life, and the elephant’s eventual return to the wild. Their story reveals the controversial elephant business and the poaching, illegal trade, exploitation, and habitat loss that threaten the animals’ survival.