The total elephant population has fallen to less than half a million and the numbers will continue to dwindle as long as they are under threat. There are several factors which are playing simultaneous roles in causing such widespread threat to the very survival of the elephant species. These gentle giants have been used, abused and murdered mercilessly for fulfilling the vested needs of man.
The only reason why a few have still managed to survive is because some people have dedicated their entire lives in the pursuit of protecting this great animal and saving it from extinction. The real issue is whether enough is being done by us to save this magnificent animal from disappearing? In order to answer this question, we will first need to understand why elephants are in danger at all times.
Why are Elephants Endangered?
#1 - Loss of Habitat
The elephants all over the world are finding themselves homeless. They are losing their habitat due to urbanization, because as the human population grows, the area occupied by us also expands. We are cutting down the forests that they depend on; we have almost destroyed their ecosystem and have pushed them into smaller pockets of settlement. This has resulted in conflict between man and elephants, thereby causing elephants to attack human settlements. The reason why elephants attack is because they have been dislocated from their own habitats and return to find it infested with humans. Since elephants have excellent memory they return to their old habitat in times of crisis, when they have no other place to hide. When they cannot protect themselves, they resort to attack. In the ongoing battle, many elephants are shot so that they do not trample over human beings.
#2 - Starvation
Elephants in the wild are dying of starvation because they do not have enough left to feed on. These animals need 140 kg of food everyday in order to sustain itself. However, with the rapid decrease in forests, their food supply has dwindled substantially.
#3 - Death by Poaching
Even though elephant poaching is illegal, the African and Asian elephants are still being killed for their ivory tusks. The African elephants have been in the list of endangered species since 1980 because of the threat to their population from hunting. The African elephant is the most widely hunted species among the 3 remaining elephant species found on earth. The endangered African elephant species has extremely long tusks, which makes it an easy target for poachers. These tusks are sold illegally for extremely high prices. There is an international ivory ban in place, which has worked to an extent but has never managed to completely stop the practice. Since elephants reproduce only once or twice in their entire lifetime, the death of an adult elephant affects the population of the entire clan.
#4 - Pollution
Elephants are susceptible to diseases just as we are. The rampant presence of toxins in water, fertilizers in crops and grass eventually leads to their death. They are forced to drink from local water points such as lakes, ponds and river belts, all of which contain toxic waste and chemicals.
#5 - Wildlife Reserves
Even wildlife sanctuaries are not hazard free for elephants. When the fences are put up, these animals find themselves cut off from their mate, companions, their breeding ground and water source. Thus, they try to escape by trampling over the fences. When they cannot manage escaping, many elephants die within the reserve, because of solitude and depression. Only the elephants which have been brought up within the reserve from a young age, manage to live happy lives.
Apart from the above mentioned reasons, elephants are often exploited for commercial purposes such as for offering joy rides to tourists. They are made to walk on tar roads, in extremely hot summers, without any water or food. The feet of this animal are very soft and get easily bruised and infected due to continuous walking on rough roads. Hopefully, now you know as to why elephants are an endangered species and why they need our help in order to survive.