The goal of World Elephant Day, according to its promoters, is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants.
African elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. According to conservationists, both African and Asian elephants face extinction within 12 years.
The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants, although it has been argued that these numbers are much too high.
The World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants.
On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. “The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature,” a conservationist was quoted as saying.
The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are said to be some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants.
Working towards better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous elephant conservation organisations are focusing on around the world.
“World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike,” says worldelephantday.org.
Dr. Stephen Blake, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology states: “Elephants are simply one more natural resource that is being caught up in human greed on the one hand and human need on the other. We somehow need people to become reacquainted with nature or they can have no clue as to the interrelatedness of cause and effect.”
Graydon Carter, Editor of Vanity Fair: “We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.”