Are Elephants Endangered in 2023?
They may be one of the strongest animals on Earth, but are elephants endangered? Here's what you need to know.
Elephants are giant, almost mythical-seeming mammals. In fact, elephants are the largest (and one of the strongest) land mammals on Earth, and that big build is made even more memorable by way of unique features like wing-like ears, dangling trunks, and ivory tusks. That ivory has resulted in problems for the elephant, with humans poaching the mammal for the valuable material. But are elephants endangered?
The elephant is a key species, encouraging biodiversity and creating useful pathways through dense forests. The animal also faces many existential risks, most of them human-caused: think climate change, land development, and trophy hunting.
Here’s everything you need to know about what's threatening elephants, and what you can do to help.
Are Elephants Endangered in 2023?
Prior to 2021, elephants were treated as a single species. But to accommodate shifts in the population (and new genetic discoveries), the mammal is now divided into two, the African Forest and Savannah. Both species are endangered.
- African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered
- African Savannah Elephant: Endangered
What Is Threatening Elephants?
The illegal ivory trade is one of the greatest threats to elephants. The problem has been tempered by regulations in recent years, but the elephant's slow reproduction rate means that regaining the lost population is a slow and difficult feat.
2. Climate Change
The effects of climate change can be felt around the world, and in Africa largely manifest as droughts. Elephants are big (did we mention that?) and need copious amounts of drinking water to survive. Higher temperatures also lead to increased disease, posing yet another risk to the mammal.
3. Human Development
Development of farms, roads, and other human infrastructure naturally encroaches on the elephant's already dwindling homes and migratory routes. As humans encroach on land that was previously reserved for wildlife, elephants are more likely to trample areas of said development, resulting in human-elephant conflict.
How Can We Help Elephants?
There are many organizations hard at work to protect our planet's remaining elephant populations. Here are some steps you can take today to ensure that these mammals continue to wander the world for decades to come.
1. Avoid Ivory
This one is a no-brainer: If it's ivory, don't buy it. The material comes entirely from the tusks of wild animals—most often elephants—and purchasing it supports a harmful and dangerous trade.
2. Donate to Conservationists
Direct your dollar to organizations doing the work to protect elephants and their habitat. Save the Elephants, the International Elephant Foundation, and ElephantVoices offer a great starting point.
3. Reduce Your Footprint
Climate change is among the biggest threats to the elephant's natural habitat. Shifting your everyday consumption of resources and becoming a more conscious consumer can make a positive impact on everyone—including the elephant.
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