China has banned the importation of ivory
To observe a herd of elephants (the proper term is actually a parade of elephants) on the move is a truly magical, though now diminishing sight. Some great news for the start of 2017 is a collaboration between, the US and China, the two largest buyers of Ivory which should help reduce illegal elephant poaching.
A UN spokesperson stated how;
“In order to protect and conserve the world’s remaining populations of wild elephants”
Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Male African elephants are the largest extant terrestrial animals and can reach a height of 4m and weigh 7,000 kg.
THE LAST DECADE HAS NOW SEEN OVER 20% OF THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT KILLED, THAT’S SOME 30,000 ANNUALLY
Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. They are considered to be keystone species due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance, while predators such as lions, tigers, hyenas, and wild dogs usually target only young elephants (or “calves”). Females (“cows”) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow.
THE US/CHINA COLLABORATION IS A HUGE STEP FORWARD FOR THE PROTECTION OF A BEAUTIFUL AND ENDANGERED SPECIES
Elephants have a fission–fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise. Males (“bulls”) leave their family groups when they reach puberty and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate.
“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” – David Attenborough
Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound; elephants use infrasound and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.
Elephant have a highly ordered and structured social fabric – especially in the breeding herds where the stable social group is made up of closely related adult females with their offspring of various ages. Adolescent males leave herds to form small bachelor groups, which are loosely structured and unstable. Herd size is variable but herds numbering hundreds of individuals of all age classes and sex are not uncommon. These large herds will sometimes congregate, socialise for a while and then break up into smaller units.
Touch is extremely important to elephants. Young calves and mothers will often be seen touching one another – expressions of reassurance and fondness. Without a doubt and without the danger of becoming anthropomorphic there appears to be a very real expression of affection – even love – between elephants and especially between cows and their young offspring.
“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.” – John Donne
Elephant calves are an entertainment to watch. Always busy – like children with an almost inexhaustible supply of energy. Exploring, inquisitive, playing, trying to figure out how to work this thing called a trunk. Yet when tiredness eventually sets in they will snuggle under mother for a drink or for a reassuring touch or like little clowns will flop over onto their sides for a quick nap. Elephant cows are highly protective of their young and to find yourself, on foot, in the close proximity to a breeding herd of elephant is possibly one of the most dangerous situations in the African bush. Many people have lost their lives in Africa as victims of enraged elephant cows protecting their young.
African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people.