Elephants

One of the most well known and widely recognised animals, elephants are threatened by illegal wildlife trade mainly due to demand for ivory.

One of the most well known and widely recognised animals, elephants are threatened by illegal wildlife trade mainly due to demand for ivory.

Despite an international trade ban on ivory, it is estimated that over 35,000 elephants are killed annually for their tusks.

Top facts

● The African savannah elephant is the largest land animal on Earth.
● African elephants have large ears resembling maps of Africa. Asian elephants’ ears are smaller and more rounded.
● An elephant’s trunk is powerful enough to lift a whole tree.
● Elephants use their tusks to dig for roots and water and strip barks from trees.
● Like whales, elephants use infrasonic sounds to communicate.

Demand is high for

Tusks – their ivory tusks are traded as is or carved into ornaments and multiple other items
Hide – clothes, jewelry, furnishings & display purposes
Body parts – meat, medicinal use, jewelry & display purposes

Increasingly there are also reports of poaching of Asian elephants for their skin. Easily differentiated from Asian elephants, African elephants ears are larger and resemble a map of Africa. Around 90% of African elephants have been lost in the past century, and its estimated that around 30,000 are poached every year, primarily for their ivory tusks. With population declines of at least 50% over the last three generations, Asian elephants are currently considered Endangered. There are three recognised subspecies of Asian elephant, all of which are facing an uncertain future.

Most demand for ivory and other elephant products is from the far east. China closed its domestic ivory trade in 2017 and so any ivory destined for China is illegal.

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