The Global Trade
Did you know that across the world, there are less than 600,000 elephants? That includes those in zoos and in the wild, both in Africa and Asia. All over the place, elephants are dying, and they have been for decades. While it's all over international news today, no one paid any attention to the drastic situation until the imminent threat of the extinction of elephants became a realistic fear.
Thankfully, progress is now being made to stop the ivory trade, which takes out 33,000 African elephants each year. But this trade is far from over. In fact, poaching has become such a lucrative and organized crime that it's going to take a lot of work to eliminate it.
So in this second installment on poaching, let's look at where poaching happens. It seems like it takes place so far away from our lives here in Midwest America, but we can still feel its affects. So let's spend this blog looking at the different settings of the ivory trade.
While hanging with my sister in her room today, I rediscovered a fascinating little book about elephants, and I just had to share it with y'all. This book is actually a small journal, with completely blank pages (even though my sister has had it for years). Like many other journals these days, this one is made from completely organic resources, so this little fact isn't anything special.
So why blog about it? Well, it's made completely from poop!
Yep, you read that right. my sister's little journal is made completely out of elephant poop, digested and gathered in Thailand! Just to reassure you, it carries no smell whatsoever, which is why it's still in our house.
Now, you may not find this discovery a very exciting one, but I would disagree. In my opinion, this little journal carries a great hope for a very important species. As you'll know if you've followed my blog for a bit, both African and Asian elephants are critically endangered, with less than 400,000 present on the African continent and less than 60,000 left in Asia. With the disappearance of their habitat and the constant struggle of human-elephant conflict, Asian elephants stand very little chance of survival in the wild.
Let's say you had a young elephant to buy Christmas presents for. What are the perfect gifts to leave under the tree? What kind of toys do baby elephants like to play with? Well, luckily for you I've made a short list of things elephant calves love, to help you get your shopping started.
Soccer ball- as I mentioned in an earlier post, elephants love to kick around a ball, although it might need to be pumped up several times.
Tub of water- elephants also love water, especially since it keeps their sensitive skin hydrated. They have so much fun splashing around!
The History of Poaching
Poaching isn't a new trade; it's actually been around for dozens of years, but most of us don't really know how it got started and how it's grown in recent years. Over the next few blogs I'm going to get in-depth and discuss the details of the trade, discussing how it began, where it exists and the consequences to both elephants and humans.
In this first post we'll talk about how the practice of killing elephants first got started: culling.
Culling is an organized, planned killing of elephant herds to keep populations from becoming overwhelming. In Africa as well as in Asia, one of the greatest issues with elephants is the human-elephant conflict that comes from sharing the same space. Culling is an approach taken by African governments to control elephant populations and to keep them from increasing so rapidly.
As thousands more elephants are being shot down every year, it's no surprise that the very society of this social species is breaking down. To help understand how this happens, let's first look at elephant society as a whole.
Elephants live in herds, composed of family members or peers. There are herds that have an entire family line and others that are just a group of bachelors traveling together. Elephants live in herds for socialization and to learn how to be an elephant. Babies learn not just from their mothers, but from sisters, aunts, cousins and grandmas. Wild bulls also congregate together to form bachelor herds, where young boys learn manners and respect from their elders.
Herds are very important for elephants. They do everything together, from sleeping to eating to playing. In fact, if you see an elephant alone (unless it's an adult male), it means something bad has happened.
In light of my favorite NFL team's recent victory, I couldn't help making a post about elephants playing football. Or, as I should clarify for us Americans, soccer.
Elephants do play football, just not American football. They play the world's football in many nations around the world, and are quite good at it. In fact, it's somewhat of a professional sport.
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.