The African elephant was long hunted for their ivory tusks, which was a sought after material for many uses. 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. Strong partnerships are already in place with the travel and e-commerce sectors, with commitments to avoid promoting, handling, or selling elephant ivory. This ban on ivory trading was introduced by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in the year 1989. Stand with WWF. Sadly humans pose by far the greatest threat to the African elephant. World Wildlife Fund Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax ID number 52-1693387) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 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. 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. But their habitat is shrinking and Asian elephants are now endangered. Elephants were once abundant throughout Africa and Asia but the illegal ivory trade has led to their demise. 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. Both face serious threats to their long-term survival, although the risks vary widely from place to place. 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. We are dead serious about stopping wildlife crime. During the twentieth century wild populations saw a rapid decline as a result of an insatiable consumer demand for ivory from Asian markets. Ivory sellers also do a roaring trade in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and other parts of Asia; and troublingly, demand seems to be rising. In 2013, more than 35,000 elephants across Africa were killed for their ivory, which is often carved and sold as ornaments, jewelry and other gift items. Less than 20% of African elephant habitat is under formal protection, according to WWF, while an average of 70% of elephants in Asia are found outside protected areas. 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. We support efforts to determine the population status of elephants in sites across Africa and Asia to make our conservation projects more effective. Several … As a consumer, anyone can support the effort to save elephants simply by never buying anything containing ivory. The African elephant is the largest of all elephant species and weighs up to eight tons. Washington, DC 20037. 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. And while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the international trade of ivory in 1989, legal ivory markets have remained in some countries, enabled by a resurgent black market and well-armed gangs of poachers. In recent years, at least 20,000 elephants have been killed in Africa each year for their tusks. They are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. It is estimated that probably one quarter to one third of the total African elephant population is made up of forest elephants. Community and government rangers and game guards help protect endangered species like elephants and WWF helps train and equip them. African forest elephants have been the worst hit. Yet the number of them in the wild continues to plummet at an alarming rate. … Bothe species of elephants are endangered for different reasons. These negative interactions can result in the retaliatory killing of elephants. In Asia, on average, 70% of the wild elephant population lives outside protected areas. They are also play a critical role in maintaining the region's forests. All other African and Asian elephants remain on the CITES appendices as threatened or vulnerable, with strict limitations on trade in ivory of African elephants and prohibitions on commercial trade in Asian elephants and their parts and products [11,12]. In addition, the African elephant population is at risk due to loss of habitat when mankind moves into the elephant's range. 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. 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. WWF is working directly with these countries to support the closing of their elephant ivory markets and leverage international policy and diplomacy channels. 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. Elephant evolution. Poaching and habitat loss are the major threats to African elephants today. In the savannas, they reduce bush cover to create an environment favorable to a mix of browsing and grazing animals. 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. 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. In India and Nepal, for example, the Terai Arc Landscape project aims to reconnect a chain of 12 protected areas where Asian elephants live. Park rangers are on the front lines against armed poachers, and more resources are always needed to protect elephants across huge expanses of space. Elephant Conservation African elephants are considered as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Asian elephants are considered as endangered. They make pathways in dense forested habitat that allow passage for other animals. 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. 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. Approximately 50% of these live in India alone, while the remaining population is dispersed across various other nations of Asia. They ingest plants and fruits, walk for miles, and excrete the seeds in fertile dung piles. 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. Aside from being intelligent, charismatic, and iconic, elephants are also important keystone species who shape and sustain the ecosystems around them. On top of occupying and altering elephant habitats, people also commonly plant food crops there. Elephants help maintain forest and savanna ecosystems for other species and are integrally tied to rich biodiversity. Why are elephants endangered? 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. Sumatran elephants are in fact critically endangered. 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. 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. It is estimated there are around 350,000 elephants left in Africa, but approximately 10-15,000 are killed each year by poachers. Over four and a half years, the Google.org-funded 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. Endangered Animals: African Elephant. 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. 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. They are enormous animals and one that many cultures hold in high regard. 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! Asian elephant Asian elephants are endangered, which means they are in danger of becoming extinct and not existing on Earth anymore. A single calf is born to a female once every four to five years and after a gestation period of 22 months—the longest of any mammal. ... And whilst law enforcement has failed in the past, on the other hand we have a history of curbing the demand for endangered species. Of … Elephants play a pivotal role in shaping their habitat and directly influence forest composition and density, disperse seeds, and alter the broader landscape. Asian elephants differ in several ways from their African relatives, with more than 10 distinct physical differences between them. There are two main groups of elephants left on Earth: African elephants and Asian elephants. Thirty Hills is one of the last places on Earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild. At the beginning of the 21st century, fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants remained in the wild. 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. It has ben well known that the elephant tusks sold in a very high price. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. WWF trains rangers in elephant monitoring and antipoaching techniques and works with communities to manage and reduce conflict with elephants. Endangered Species Act (ESA). On average, an elephant can feed up to 18 hours and consume hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day. During times of drought, elephants even use their tusks to dig holes to find water underground. Elephants are sensitive and complex social animals who seek the companionship of other elephants, preferably their own families. Humans are encroaching on elephants in Africa as well as Asia, but the pressure is especially severe for Asian elephants. Since then, Chinese consumer desire for elephant ivory has dropped and wholesale prices of elephant ivory, even on the black market, have declined. This sometimes leads to retaliatory killings of elephants, interactions that are dangerous for everyone involved. 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. 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. Only some male Asian elephants have tusks, while both male and female African elephants grow tusks. 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. 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. Elephants are mammals of the family Elephantidae and the largest existing land animals. Three species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. WWF has been working since to reduce consumer demand for elephant ivory and ensure the ban is effectively enforced. They have suffered from intensive hunting for the ivory of their tusks and as trophies. African elephantshave larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants hav… 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. We are working with leading online retailers, social media platforms, tourism companies, and creative agencies. Based on the slight morphological differences, they are further divided int… 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. Female calves may stay with their maternal herd for the rest of their lives, while males leave the herd as they reach puberty. Russell McLendon is a science journalist who covers a wide range of topics about the natural environment, humans, and other wildlife. There are two recognized species of elephants, the African elephant (Lexodonta Africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). In 1978, the African elephant was listed as Threatened under the U.S. 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. The largest of all land beasts, elephants are thundering, trumpeting six-tonne monuments to the wonder of evolution. These clashes lead to hundreds of deaths across Asia and Africa every year, both elephant and human. Let's read on to find out more about these interesting creatures. Poaching can threaten elephants almost anywhere, but most illegal ivory currently comes from African elephants, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where thousands of elephants are killed by poachers every year. Presently, less than 50,000 mature individuals have been reported living in the wild habitat and nearly 15,000 in captivity in the zoos. According to the Red List maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Loxodonta africana … 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. They can also be used for defense. 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. At the borders of Cambodia and Vietnam, WWF works with park staff to patrol protected areas and assess elephant distribution and numbers. We also engage in efforts to educate communities that lead to behavior change that will minimize negative impacts. WWF helps establish new protected areas within elephant ranges and improve management effectiveness within existing protected areas. As a result, human-elephant conflict is rising as more and more elephants come into close contact with humans. Elephants have been revered for centuries in Asia, playing an important role in the continent's culture and religion. The family Elephantidae also contains several now-extinct groups, including the mammoths and straight-tusked elephants. ', 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. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. All elephants need lots of water, a thirst that drives much of their migratory behavior and daily activities. Many efforts have been made to outlaw hunting elephants for their tusks, but poaching still occurs on a … That is another focus for conservationists, who scored an important victory in 2017 when China ended its legal ivory trade. 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. Two genetically different African subspecies exist: the savanna and the forest elephant, with a number of characteristics that differentiate them both. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. 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. African elephants play a vital role in maintaining ecological harmony in their natural habitats. 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. The demand for elephant ivory led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. 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. As seasonal waters ebb and flow, the movements of elephants and other wildlife follow. Human-elephant conflict leads not only to negative interactions and loss of income, property, and lives, but also reduces community tolerance for conserving elephants. Asian elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists African elephants as vulnerable. In this lesson, we'll learn some cool facts about African elephants and come to understand why they are an endangered species. Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth and have distinctly massive bodies, large ears, and long trunks. Why are elephants endangered? The main threat to both Asian and African elephants is a familiar one for wildlife around the world: loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Many elephants also face additional dangers, though, including both direct and indirect conflict with people. With the release of this new report, a downgrade in status to Endangered … 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. Elephant tusks serve many purposes. 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. The African elephant is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 but is not listed as endangered. An elephant footprint can also enable a micro-ecosystem that, when filled with water, can provide a home for tadpoles and other organisms. These extended teeth can be used to protect the elephant's trunk, lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. As more farms appear in forests and savannas where elephants are accustomed to roaming, their crops often become easy targets for hungry elephants. 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. Th… Despite a ban on ivory trade in 1990 illegal poaching is still a problem in some African regions. 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. 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