Elephants in Moremi. Picture: George Logan
Elephants in Moremi. Picture: George Logan

Born Free has launched an Elephants in Crisis appeal on behalf of an iconic species that could disappear from much of Africa within our lifetime.

Elephants are in crisis. A century ago there were an estimated five million elephants in Africa. Today, there are less than half a million. On average, at least 55 elephants are killed by poachers every day for their tusks. That’s one every 25 minutes.

Since 2012, it is estimated that 201,288 elephants have been poached. Now, experts have predicted that unless poaching can be effectively addressed, elephants could all but disappear from many of Africa’s wild places in the coming decades.

Ivory burn 2015. Picture: BFF
Ivory burn 2015. Picture: BFF

A world without elephants – unimaginable!

Ahead of World Elephant Day on Sunday, 12 August 2018, Will Travers OBE, President of The Born Free Foundation, says, “A world without elephants is simply unimaginable. Born Free simply cannot, and will not, let that happen. Our extensive experience means we have witnessed first-hand the brutal aftermath of poaching and the pressure that the species is under because of the demand for ivory. That’s why we have been campaigning for a global ban on the trade in ivory since 1989.”

“Steps are finally being taken in the right direction – China officially closed its domestic ivory market back in 2017, the US has taken resolute action, the majority of Africa countries are calling for the trade to end – and the UK Government plans to end almost all domestic ivory trade by October 2018, However, there is still a great deal more to be done.”

“Just two years ago I stood on the edge of Nairobi National Park, in Kenya, and watched 105 tonnes of ivory burn. Eleven towering pyres of tusks from an estimated 10,000 elephants were ceremoniously torched to send a defiant message to the world that, as far as Kenya was concerned, elephants are worth more alive.

“While there is still a demand, poachers, and the criminal networks that support them, will continue to destroy a symbol of all that is wild and free. There is much we still have to do to end the slaughter and secure a safe, long-term future for these iconic animals.”

So, why does the world need elephants?

African elephants are a keystone species with a valuable role to play culturally, aesthetically, and within their own diverse and varied ecosystems. Known as ‘gardeners of the forest’, elephants disperse plant species by depositing undigested seeds in their dung, and modify landscapes by uprooting trees and digging for water during the dry season. These natural foraging behaviours help other animals survive in harsh environmental conditions.

Elephants are also sentient creatures. They live in close-knit family groups of individuals who care for and protect their young. And, just like humans, they mourn the loss of family members.

Callous poachers kill adult elephants for their tusks, often leaving distraught infants orphaned. The lucky ones are rescued – the majority almost certainly perish.

What can you do to help Born Free?

Sign Born Free’s ivory petition – https://www.bornfree.org.uk/ivory-trade-petition

Adopt Born Free’s Elephant Family – a close-knit herd who live in Kenya’s Amboseli

Park at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro – https://give.bornfree.org.uk/products/african-elephant-adoption-202

Support the Born Free ivory amnesty- https://www.bornfree.org.uk/donate-your-unwanted-ivory-to-born-free

Donate – Born Free urgently need funds for their life-saving work in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya – https://give.bornfree.org.uk/products/elephants-in-crisis-1052

Spread the word – use Born Free’s social media links to spread the word about the global ivory trade to drive the rejection of ivory – https://www.bornfree.org.uk/ivory-trade

Virginia McKenna. Picture: Land Rover. Born Free Elephants in Crisis appeal - what you can do
Virginia McKenna. Picture: Land Rover

Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder of Born Free, concludes, “Elephants are living treasures. Nature’s gardeners. Nature’s great teachers. Tragically some people don’t give a damn. We must cherish life and not tolerate cruelty and death. We must challenge the bloody ivory trade with all our might. We must bring shame on those who would condone it. It’s time to be kind.”

What: Born Free Elephants in Crisis appeal
World Elephant Day: Sunday, 12 August 2018
Donate to Born Free: www.bornfree.org.uk
Watch: https://vimeo.com/280547403