The African elephant is the largest of all elephant species and weighs up to eight tons. Asian elephant Asian elephants are endangered, which means they are in danger of becoming extinct and not existing on Earth anymore. Asian and African elephants are listed as endangered species. 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. 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. This threat is also compounded as their habitats shrink and splinter, since thirsty elephants now have even fewer options for undeveloped places to find water. We are working with leading online retailers, social media platforms, tourism companies, and creative agencies. 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. 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. ... And whilst law enforcement has failed in the past, on the other hand we have a history of curbing the demand for endangered species. 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. 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. Though some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, human-elephant conflict, and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species. 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. WWF works with elephant range state governments, local people, and non-governmental partners to secure a future for this keystone species by thinking beyond protected areas. Community and government rangers and game guards help protect endangered species like elephants and WWF helps train and equip them. Bothe species of elephants are endangered for different reasons. 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. As seasonal waters ebb and flow, the movements of elephants and other wildlife follow. Aside from being intelligent, charismatic, and iconic, elephants are also important keystone species who shape and sustain the ecosystems around them. WWF and partners secure protection for critical rain forest in Sumatra. This often leads to elephants destroying crops and property, as well as occasional human casualties. Three species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. 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. 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. As a result, as they lose habitat, they often come into conflict with people in competition for resources. In India and Nepal, for example, the Terai Arc Landscape project aims to reconnect a chain of 12 protected areas where Asian elephants live. 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. At the borders of Cambodia and Vietnam, WWF works with park staff to patrol protected areas and assess elephant distribution and numbers. Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth and have distinctly massive bodies, large ears, and long trunks. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. Why elephants are endangered Humans are to blame for the endangered status of elephants; the two main causes are hunting and habitat loss. WWF is working directly with these countries to support the closing of their elephant ivory markets and leverage international policy and diplomacy channels. The Asian elephant, whose habitat ranges over 13 countries across Asia, is an endangered species with less than 40,000 remaining worldwide – less than a tenth of the African elephant population. According to the Red List maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Loxodonta africana … Elephants are important ecosystem engineers. 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. African elephants are a good example. Many people around the world are dedicated to preserving these ancient creatures; here are a few of their top priorities: Since the main threat to elephants is habitat loss, it makes sense to focus our conservation efforts on preserving what’s left of their natural environment. African forest elephants have been the worst hit. In tropical forests, elephants create clearings and gaps in the canopy that encourage tree regeneration. Elephants help maintain forest and savanna ecosystems for other species and are integrally tied to rich biodiversity. During the twentieth century wild populations saw a rapid decline as a result of an insatiable consumer demand for ivory from Asian markets. They are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. The African elephant is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 but is not listed as endangered. Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. At the beginning of the 21st century, fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants remained in the wild. 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. Despite a ban on ivory trade in 1990 illegal poaching is still a problem in some African regions. Elephants have been revered for centuries in Asia, playing an important role in the continent's culture and religion. These clashes lead to hundreds of deaths across Asia and Africa every year, both elephant and human. WWF works with TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network, to reduce the major threat that illegal and illicit domestic ivory markets pose to wild elephants. They can also be used for defense. They are enormous animals and one that many cultures hold in high regard. Though some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, human-elephant conflict, and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species. In Asia, on average, 70% of the wild elephant population lives outside protected areas. 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. 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. As a consumer, anyone can support the effort to save elephants simply by never buying anything containing ivory. These extended teeth can be used to protect the elephant's trunk, lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. Many elephant populations plummeted last century due to unsustainable hunting, largely fueled by demand for their ivory tusks. 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]. Endangered Animals: African Elephant. Sumatran elephants are in fact critically endangered. 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. To reduce human-wildlife conflict in the long term, WWF works with governments and other stakeholders to address the root causes of human-elephant conflict, such as habitat loss and fragmentation and unplanned development. They are also play a critical role in maintaining the region's forests. Russell McLendon is a science journalist who covers a wide range of topics about the natural environment, humans, and other wildlife. Park rangers are on the front lines against armed poachers, and more resources are always needed to protect elephants across huge expanses of space. In this lesson, we'll learn some cool facts about African elephants and come to understand why they are an endangered species. Yet the number of them in the wild continues to plummet at an alarming rate. Elephants are also captured alive for domestic use, such as tourist attractions. Presently, less than 50,000 mature individuals have been reported living in the wild habitat and nearly 15,000 in captivity in the zoos. The family Elephantidae also contains several now-extinct groups, including the mammoths and straight-tusked elephants. Of … On average, an elephant can feed up to 18 hours and consume hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day. But their habitat is shrinking and Asian elephants are now 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. Thirty Hills is one of the last places on Earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild. In 1978, the African elephant was listed as Threatened under the U.S. That is another focus for conservationists, who scored an important victory in 2017 when China ended its legal ivory trade. Poaching and habitat loss are the major threats to African elephants today. 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. It is estimated there are around 350,000 elephants left in Africa, but approximately 10-15,000 are killed each year by poachers. They ingest plants and fruits, walk for miles, and excrete the seeds in fertile dung piles. In the savannas, they reduce bush cover to create an environment favorable to a mix of browsing and grazing animals. In the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), the world's largest terrestrial conservation landscape, which harbors more than half of Africa's elephants, WWF aims to secure a future for these animals and other wildlife by supporting the work of the KAZA Secretariat and the five KAZA partner countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and their local communities through better protection, increasing the knowledge of their seasonal movements, and promoting community-based conservation initiatives, in collaboration with the private sector. The main threat to both Asian and African elephants is a familiar one for wildlife around the world: loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Two genetically different African subspecies exist: the savanna and the forest elephant, with a number of characteristics that differentiate them both. Humans are encroaching on elephants in Africa as well as Asia, but the pressure is especially severe for Asian 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. African elephantshave larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants hav… The African elephant was long hunted for their ivory tusks, which was a sought after material for many uses. Based on the slight morphological differences, they are further divided int… Michelle Gadd [public domain]/USFWS/Flickr. A big focus for WWF is also changing consumer behavior to reduce elephant ivory purchasing and create a new norm that elephant ivory is not socially acceptable. 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. Many elephants also face additional dangers, though, including both direct and indirect conflict with people. 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. 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 also engage in efforts to educate communities that lead to behavior change that will minimize negative impacts. It is estimated that probably one quarter to one third of the total African elephant population is made up of forest elephants. 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. 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. Since then, Chinese consumer desire for elephant ivory has dropped and wholesale prices of elephant ivory, even on the black market, have declined. Unlike their Asian and African elephant counterparts in West and central Africa, as well as in a couple of Eastern African countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique, that all have experienced dramatic decreases in their populations, some major populations in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have remained stable or are increasing. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, various factors affect the condition and survival of their remaining population. … The largest threats to the Asian elephant are poaching and habitat loss. Elephants are sensitive and complex social animals who seek the companionship of other elephants, preferably their own families. 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. 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. 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. 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. African elephants play a vital role in maintaining ecological harmony in their natural habitats. African elephants are listed as threatened under the American Endangered Species Act because the species is at risk of extinction due to poaching for their tusks, which are sold on the black market. Strong partnerships are already in place with the travel and e-commerce sectors, with commitments to avoid promoting, handling, or selling elephant ivory. African elephant populations have fallen from an estimated 12 million a century ago to some 400,000. 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. Elephants are among the most intelligent and social of animals, and their numbers in Africa have fallen from a pre-industrial high of 10 million to … 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. Calves are cared for by the entire herd of related females. Together, we will make a difference. On top of occupying and altering elephant habitats, people also commonly plant food crops there. 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. Sign the pledge today. Why are elephants endangered? As a bonus, the bees also provide fresh local honey. 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. Asian elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists African elephants as vulnerable. Sadly humans pose by far the greatest threat to the African elephant. It has ben well known that the elephant tusks sold in a very high price. Several … In addition, the African elephant population is at risk due to loss of habitat when mankind moves into the elephant's range. All elephants need lots of water, a thirst that drives much of their migratory behavior and daily activities. They use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings, greet other elephants, or suck up water for drinking or bathing, among other uses. During times of drought, elephants even use their tusks to dig holes to find water underground. 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. Their habitats are increasingly shrunken and fragmented by agriculture, logging, roads, and development for residential or commercial use. According to the statistics provided, nearly 10,000 wild elephants are killed each year only for ivory trading, with China being the highest consumer around the globe. 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. As keystone species, they help maintain biodiversity of the ecosystems they inhabit. 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