Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.
World Elephant Day
World Elephant Day first took place in 2012 with the attention of it becoming an annual event. The Elephant already has its 'Appreciation Day' but two days in a year are probably not enough to draw the World's attention to the severe threats that elephants are facing in the wild today.
August 12th is World Elephant Day.
Elephant numbers are dropping all the time. They are being poached every day and not on just two days a year. They need our help. Zoos can choose one or both of these days to draw attention to the elephant. If the elephants disappear then so will so many other species too. Elephants are one of the 'gardeners of the wild', a species which tends the earth making the habitat suitable for other creatures.
Elephants are not being killed for food but for their ivory. In times gone by every snooker ball, every piano key, every Mahjong tile was made of ivory. Today this is not the case and yet today the demand for ivory is probably greater than it ever was. Elephants are a protected species and yet they continue to be killed. We all need to work together to protect this, the largest mammal that walks the earth or soon they will be no more.
Elephants are found today in Africa and Asia. They are under threat wherever they occur. It is estimated that in the region of 30,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks.
There are three species of Elephant. Two occurring in Africa and one in Asia. The two African species which though very similar in appearance are as genetically different from each other as tigers are from lions. The Asiatic elephants are very different again.
In India everyone knows Ganesh, the elephant God and yet it is killed here too albeit in smaller numbers.
I have been lucky enough to have been an elephant keeper for part of my zoo career. They are probably the most rewarding of all animals I have worked with. Elephant care is hard work but it pays back with love and affection.
Wildlife documentaries and zoo visits can give you just an inkling of the wonder of these magnificent beasts. A safari may give you just a little bit more but a hands on experience will give you something you will never, ever forget.
If I had to suggest anywhere it would be Elephantstay in Thailand. This is amongst the best places in the world to experience elephants. Novices and experienced elephant keepers have all had good things to say about their visits and stays here.
Other Elephant Days
You can help elephants by not purchasing ivory trinkets and by helping genuine conservation charities. Be aware that many 'rescue centres' are just fronts. They do nothing other than line the pockets of those who run these places. Talks of returning animals to the wild are often no more than talk. The wild is shrinking, elephants don't really have any place to go any more.
Elephants are being killed every day for their ivory. Ivory seizures are not that common. More slips through the net than is ever recovered so think on this.
In August 2013 Hong Kong Officials confiscated 1,200 tusks.
In July Tanzanian authorities recovered 70 tusks.
Also in July another Tanzanian was arrested with 347 tusks but was said to have exported a further 748 tusks in May.
These are but a drop in the ocean. Consider that for every two tusks one elephant has died. Think on....other elephants died too defending other herd members or escaped injured to die long lingering deaths elsewhere.
Elephants need our help.
More Articles on Elephants
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 11, 2013:
Thank for creating this hub and for publicizing the plight of elephants, Peter. It was interesting to read about your personal experience with elephants. Their current situation is very sad and they need all the help that they can get.