Vancouver, BC – August 10, 2020
COVID-19 creates catastrophe for elephants and rangers as tourism shuts down
As the ninth annual World Elephant Day approaches on August 12, elephants already facing extinction from poaching take on a new foe – COVID-19.
Elephants are impacted by COVID-19 largely due to its impact on humanity. The loss of tourism to the elephant-populated areas of Africa and Asia is having dire consequences for elephant conservation, and the people who help protect them. A lack of tourists, and therefore funding, is causing a resurgence in poaching, human-elephant conflict, and the bush meat trade in Africa; and is leaving Asian elephants to suffer in captivity from lack of food and adequate medical care.
Rangers are facing some of the toughest challenges from COVID-19. Stretched to the limit for resources, many elephant conservation organizations have had to let go the very people in charge of protecting elephants.
World Elephant Day was created to raise awareness of several threats to the world’s largest mammal. Founder Patricia Sims, a Canadian filmmaker and conservationist states, “The pandemic that has ravaged the world has put a perilous amount of pressure on elephants and rangers.”
Once a population of 12 million in the early 1900s, African elephants now number only 400,000 or less. Asian elephants are even more endangered with around 35,000 left.
Elephants are a keystone species, meaning several other animals and plants rely on them to survive. They are also powerful climate change mitigators, making room for smaller vegetation to grow and spreading seeds in their manure, thus playing a critical role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of ecosystems.
Fran Duthie, the president of Elephanatics, an elephant advocacy organization in Vancouver, says, “The legal and illegal wildlife trade is one of the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues worldwide. Wildlife trade must end.”
Paul Rodgers, a British-Canadian singer and musician said, “It’s hard to believe there is still poaching and trophy hunting today. Blues legend Willie Dixon said: “Once we know better, we can do better”. So now we know better, let’s do better.”
The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition, including Humane Society International/Canada, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, World Elephant Day, Elephanatics, and Global March for Elephants & Rhinos – Toronto, is asking the Canadian government to make the import, domestic sale, and export of all elephant ivory illegal. The petition at change.org/IvoryFreeCanada is approaching 600,000 signatures. The goal is to reach one million signatures by World Elephant Day, after which they will be presented to the government.
About World Elephant Day
World Elephant Day was founded by Canadian filmmaker Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand, on August 12, 2012. World Elephant Day’s mission is to raise awareness and ignite action to save elephants from extinction by educating the global public about the plight of African and Asian elephants and the conservation solutions required to protect them.
Their mission is to assist global elephant conservation efforts by educating Canadians about issues of ivory poaching, habitat loss, and the continued exploitation of elephants by humans, and to connect Canadians directly with elephant conservation partners in Africa and Asia.
World Elephant Day
Every year approximately 20,000 African elephants are killed for their tusks. Over the course of a century, wild elephant populations have dropped by a shocking 97%. Conservation research clearly shows that the world’s largest land animal will disappear from the wild within our lifetime if demand for ivory is not reduced. It is estimated that fewer than 400,000 African elephants remain.
Asian elephants are an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, with less than 40,000 remaining worldwide. The elephants face extensive loss of habitat, due to the encroachment of growing human populations and deforestation. They are also killed for their ivory, meat, and body parts; while young elephants are removed from their herd and their natural environment for use in the tourism industry.
How To Get Involved
- Visit org/how to help elephants
- Follow World Elephant Day on social media: com/worldelephantday, twitter.com/wrldelephantday and instagram.com/worldelephantday
- Use #WorldElephantDay, #IvoryFreeCanada, #BeElephantEthical, #JointheHerd, #Elephants, #SaveElephants, #EndWildlifeCrime, #ElephantTourism, #AsianElephants
- Help make ivory trade illegal in Canada: org/makeitamillion/
- Follow Elephanatics on social media: com/elephanatics, twitter.com/elephanaticsBC and instagram.com/elephanaticsBC
- Continue to sign and share the petition at: org/IvoryFreeCanada
- Tell friends and family not to ride elephants. Walk behind them instead.