It’s World Elephant Day 2021 and we couldn’t be more excited to spend it advocating for one of our favorite animals! August 12th is recognized around the world as a day dedicated to raising awareness of the need to conserve and protect elephants and their natural habitats. The hope is for people everywhere to share their knowledge of elephants with their friends and family. And to support finding solutions to the threats elephants face every day.
Furthermore, this year marks a very special commemoration, it’s the 10th anniversary of World Elephant Day! Join us as we dive into some recent elephant news and share ways to support elephant conservation today and every day!
Let’s begin World Elephant Day 2021 by addressing the elephant in the room. Elephant populations are now considered at a higher risk for extinction. The outlook has worsened, but the threats remain the same – habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal poaching. The African forest elephant is now listed as Critically Endangered. And the African savanna elephant is listed as Endangered, according to the most recent update on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These two statuses are the highest categories of threat before being considered extinct in the wild. Yes, it’s that serious.
It was reported in a recent publication by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), that this is the first year that savanna elephants and forest elephants were assessed separately for the Red List. Prior to this year, they were evaluated as one species with a Vulnerable status, despite being widely recognized as two different species. New genetic information further proving their differences has led to the re-classification of the two as separate species in the most recent IUCN’s Red List update.
This is important to note because it will allow both elephant species to receive dedicated conservation solutions specifically designed for them. This gives hope for a stronger fight against the threats they face every day.
As the world has spent the past 17 months facing unprecedented challenge after challenge, elephants too are experiencing a multitude of effects as a result of the pandemic. Travel and tourism came to a screeching halt in early 2020, leading to a dramatic loss in revenue and donations which fund the conservation programs that protect elephants and other wildlife. National parks and wildlife organizations have been strained ever since with a severe lack of resources, causing less to be invested in conservation practices.
For example, biologist Marguerite du Plessis highlighted in an article she wrote for World Elephant Day that less revenue means less rangers in the field safeguarding elephants. (You can read her piece here.) Without the watchful eyes of rangers, elephants have been more susceptible to illegal poaching and bushmeat hunting by locals facing economic hardship and starvation. In addition, in some areas elephants are exploring outside of their typical range into local communities and farms. This has led to an increase in human-wildlife conflicts like retaliation killings. Rangers on the ground and tourism revenue is imperative for the protection of elephants in all of these circumstances.
World Elephant Day 2021 is the perfect opportunity to share our knowledge of the relationship between ethical tourism and the conservation of wildlife. As previously discussed, tourism revenue is the backbone of wildlife conservation in Africa. Nature-based, conservation focused tourism provides vital resources which are used to protect elephants and the wildlife we love to see on safari. Unfortunately, not all elephant focused tourism is eco or elephant friendly.
As always, we encourage all travelers visiting Africa to support ethical tourism that promotes elephants and wildlife in their natural habitats, where they live wild and free. Avoid engaging in the captive wildlife industry or by associating with activities that hold no conservation value – such as trophy hunting, elephant rides or experiences in which elephants are subjected to perform unnatural behaviors.
When it comes to seeing elephants in the wild, our tours are designed to explore the beauty of Africa while supporting wildlife conservation through ethically responsible travel. We only visit reputable, legitimate wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers with a proven mission dedicated to conservation, like the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. And our guests know this to be true! A recent traveler shared her experience with CAT in her article titled, “How to Support Elephant Conservation on Safari”. Click here to read about her experience with Capture Africa Tours!
As World Elephant Day 2021 comes and goes, let us remember that one voice can be loud and powerful, you just have to speak up. Take a look at a few of our favorite wildlife conservation organizations and show your support in all the ways you can. Be a voice for elephants not just today, but every day! And together we can help secure a safe future for elephants for generations to come.
2022 & 2023 is bringing many opportunities to support elephant conservation on safari. Check our our TOUR PAGE for a list of our safaris!