An Asian elephant dries off with some sand in his enclosure at the zoo in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2011. (Alex Domanski/Reuters)
Last month, as the world mourned the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, five endangered elephants were killed by poachers in Kenya.
Predation of elephants has increased in recent years, with as many as 100,000 African elephants being killed between 2010 and 2012, according to an elephant researcher at Colorado State University. Nearly 60 percent of Tanzania’s elephant population has been wiped out in the past six years, the report indicated. Increased demand in Asia, where a single tusk can fetch up to $200,000, has fueled the increase in poaching.
[Five of Kenya’s endangered elephants slain]
In honor of World Elephant Day, Sydney zookeepers strapped a camera on a male Asian elephant named Gung. (Taronga Zoo)
Wednesday marks the fourth annual World Elephant Day, a day to “bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants,” according to a Web site about the annual event. There may be fewer than 400,000 African and fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants remaining in the wild, the Web site says.
[Study of land snails suggests Earth may have already lost 7 percent of its animal species]
“World Elephant Day is a rallying call for people to support organizations that are working to stop the illegal poaching and trade of elephant ivory and other wildlife products, protect wild elephant habitat, and provide sanctuaries and alternative habitats for domesticated elephants to live freely,” Patricia Sims, co-founder of World Elephant Day, said in a news release. Sims is a documentary filmmaker who has worked on several projects related to elephant conservation including “Return to the Forest.”
Indian students watch a trained elephant on World Environment Day in 2015. (Agence France Presse via Getty Images)
Actor William Shatner narrated “Return to the Forest” that was released on the first World Elephant Day in 2012.
“Elephants are among the most fascinating creatures. What limits there are to their intelligence, we don’t know. What we do know is that they can communicate between each other thousands of miles which would then also mean that every elephant is linked to every other elephant in the world. Why the complexity unless there was a reason and that reason has to be intelligence,” Shatner said. “What a wonderful creature they must be.”
A mahout in Nepal climbs his elephant as he heads toward the Chitwan National Park at Sauraha in Chitwan in 2012. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters) Staff of Malawi’s Department of Parks and Wildlife stand in front of a pile of elephant ivory tusks set for burning in Lilongwe in April. (Amos Gumulira/Agence France Presse via Getty Images) A man paints the trunk of an elephant on the eve of the annual Rath Yatra, or Chariot procession in Ahmadabad, India. (Ajit Solanki/AP) An elephant performs at the Yekaterinburg Circus in 2011 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Harry Engels/Getty Images) The trunk of “Cuddles” a female African Elephant is seen at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in 2012 in Dubbo, Australia. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) A herd of elephants is seen in Zakouma National Park, about 500 miles east of N’Djamena in Chad in 2013. (Michael Lorentz/AFP/Getty Images) A five-month-old orphaned elephant called “Tembo” plays with his keeper Thomas Chalice, who has nurtured the animal at a rhino sanctuary in Tanzania in 2012. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images) Elephant calves play in the Amboseli Game Reserve, about 150 miles south of Nairobi in 2012. (Tony Karumba/Agence France Presse via Getty Images) An elephant is seen in the morning after having been washed by his “oozie” (elephant caretaker) in Maing Hint Sal elephant logging camp, in Burma in 2014. (Ruben Salgado/Getty Images) An elephant at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya, about 190 miles north of Nairobi in 2015 (Tony Karuma/Agence France Presse via Getty Images) A Hindu holy man gives a bath to a domestic elephant on a summer day in Jammu, India, in 2015. (Channi Anand/AP) Elephants in Amboseli National Park in Kenya walk as Mount Kilimanjaro looms in the distance in 2015. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) Elephants at the Amboseli game reserve in Kenya in 2012. (Tony Kurumba/Agence France Presse via Getty Images)