There are so many worthwhile conservation organizations to support, but this “Conservation Corner” is about elephant conservation programs you might not know about.
Elephants have been poached for their tusks of ivory for many years. It is estimated that in 1980 there were 1,200,000 African elephants while in 2012 there are only 420,000—certainly a conservation concern. The initiative you might want to investigate is “96 Elephants” (www.96elephants.org). It is estimated that 96 elephants are killed every day of the year. In 2012, 35,000 were killed even though there was a world trade ban on ivory enacted in 1989. Elephants are certainly one of the most magnificent animals on our earth. They are the largest land mammal, very intelligent and beneficial to their native habitats in so many ways. But those ivory tusks have been the undoing of this pachyderm species. The tusks, which are really teeth, have been valued by humans for thousands of years—as carvings, piano keys, even false teeth in years past. What is truly amazing is that because poachers target the large tuskers (often the matriarch of a herd) scientists are finding that there are more tuskless elephants. Since the large tuskers have a greater possibility of being poached, the tuskless elephants survive, passing on their tuskless gene.
There are conservation heroes who are working diligently to protect our African elephant populations like Thomson Tembo, a former poacher who is now a member of WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society—www.wcs.org) Community Markets for Conservation Coop in Zambia and operates his own mills, keeps bees as well as working with other former poachers to help protect elephants. Also, Enock Ochring who manages the Mpala Elephant Monitoring Project in Kenya, Darren Potgieter, who is a “pilot conservationist” and Mike Fay, a WCS senior conservationist. Or you might enjoy reading about Cynthia Moss’ elephant studies through the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya (www.elephanttrust.org).
Check out these websites to learn more about the efforts being made on behalf of our world’s elephants and how you, too, can become a conservation hero.