The concept of International Day for Elephants was first introduced by Michael Clark and Patricia Simms of CanazWest, Canada and Sivaporn Dardarananda of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in 2011. Officially, World Elephant Day was launched on August 12, 2012.
The film, “Return to the Forest,” was released on this day. In the film, William Shatner narrates the reintroduction of captive elephants from Thailand into the wild in Asia. The documentary shed light on the issue of endangered Asian elephants and left viewers thinking about the importance of elephants.
Seven years since the first World Elephant Day, and Patricia Simms is still leading the international event, promoting the issues endangered elephants face and why people should care about it.
World Elephant Day was started to bring awareness of Asian and African elephants. With the escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity, these are just some of the issues our beloved elephants are facing currently. Many people are fighting for more strict enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade of ivory from elephants. World Elephant Day uses this event to promote awareness of issues such as this, trying to get people to join the fight.
Why should you participate in World Elephant Day?
In the past decade, elephant numbers have dropped by 62% and they could be extinct before we know it. An estimated 100 elephants are killed each day by poachers who seek ivory, meat, body parts and other items from elephants. This only leaves 400,000 elephants remaining.
An exoctic lust for ivory made the illegal ivory trade in the Asian market very profitable. Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China tripled, where we saw a huge increase in poaching for ivory.
Bull elephants with huge tusks are the main target for poachers, but they will also target female African elephants as they have tusks as well. This leaves a number of baby elephants orphaned because their mothers are killed for ivory and other body parts.
As of 2018, there are more African elephants being killed for ivory than there are being born.
The Asian elephant is an endangered species with a population of less than 90,000 worldwide. Asian elephants have suffered from habitat loss, as their homes have been destroyed for highway and land development. This has destroyed many, many acres of land that the elephants once called home. When elephants don’t have a habitat to live in, this leads to deadly confrontations with humans.
Asian elephants are also poached and captured for ivory and meat, where their babies are kept for entertainment purposes. Worldwide, Asian elephants are trained and traded to circuses, zoos and other amusements. Captured animals are often mistreated, abused and confined to small living spaces where they live miserably.
To save our current population of elephants, humans must put stronger enforcement policies on poaching and illegal trade of ivory, better management of elephant habitats and improve the treatment of elephants worldwide.
Essentially, World Elephant Day is a day where humans come together to raise awareness about elephants, what wonderful creatures they are and what we can do to help them get off the endangered species list. Elephants may be smart, but they can’t speak for themselves. This is where humans need to step in to support them. Please donate to World Elephant Day themsleves, or any reputable Elephant charity as they truly need our help.
“Elephants are among the most fascinating creatures. What limits there are to their intelligence, we don’t know. What we do know is that they can communicate between each other thousands of miles which would then also mean that every elephant is linked to every other elephant in the world. Why the complexity unless there was a reason and that reason has to be intelligence. What a wonderful creature they must be.” – William Shatner, Return to the Forest