Elephants: The Threatened Species

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Elephants are threatened on numerous fronts, including rising human-animal conflict and the illegal ivory trade. The goal of World Elephant Day is to raise awareness of the need to protect elephants and the laws that can be put in place to do so.

Patricia Sims, a Canadian filmmaker and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand, an initiative of HM Quen Sirikit, co-founded World Elephant Day on August 12, 2012, and since then the day has been observed annually.

The celebration has greatly changed over time. Sims established the World Elephant Society in 2015 as a nonprofit organization to oversee the annual World Elephant Day campaign and associated activities.

World Elephant Day is currently recognized as “an annual global movement to unite people in support of elephants.” Millions of people participated in the campaign, which has worked with more than 100 elephant conservation organizations worldwide.

What’s the significance of this day?
The importance of World Elephant Day in spreading awareness of the issues these gentle giants confront worldwide cannot be overstated. Threats to these animals include habitat deterioration, poaching, and illicit wildlife trade.

Fascinating facts about Elephants

Elephants mourn their dead
Elephants have shown remarkable reactions to the passing of members of their species, frequently exhibiting what people see as signs of grief and mourning. They spend hours standing close to the body of the deceased, their trunks caressing the bones of the dead. They have even tried to bury the remains in the past!

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Elephants show empathy
Asian elephants were seen soothing one another in a recent study when they were upset. The elephants in the study used vocal noises and physical contact to console one another, rubbing each other’s trunks and chirping inconspicuously. According to the study’s findings, this behavior is “best categorized with similar consolation responses by primates, potentially based on convergent evolution of empathetic capacities.”

Elephants never forget
It is not simply an Agatha Christie book, Elephants Can Remember, but elephants never forget because they have a denser temporal lobe than humans, which is the part of the brain connected to memory.

The Asian elephant population count
According to the WWF, only about 415,000 wild elephants are believed to be living today after the ivory trade contributed to the eradication of almost 90% of African elephants in the last century.

Asian elephant populations have decreased by at least 50% over the past three generations, placing them at risk. Only about 45,000 remain in the wild.

Elephants are intelligent
Like dolphins and monkeys, elephants are highly intelligent animals. They possess the ability to express emotions like sorrow, empathy, and compassion. Elephants are able to read body language from humans.

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