Celebrating Elephants – World Elephant Day 2015

Celebrating Elephants – World Elephant Day 2015
Tuesday, 11 August, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

On Wednesday millions of animal lovers around the world will be raising a cheer for nature’s biggest land animal, the elephant.

“At a time when there is plenty to worry about with regards to elephants, World Elephant Day on August 12 is one of those days that gives everyone a chance to celebrate everything that is so wonderful about these incredible creatures and what is being done to protect them,” says Jason Bell, Director: IFAW Southern Africa.

“While elephants are under more threat from poaching and habitat loss than ever, we are seeing a significant groundswell in the determination by governments, ngos and the public to stop the criminals who kill elephants for their ivory, to end illegal trade, and to ensure elephants live their lives free from conflict with humans.

“Elephants have fascinated humans for thousands of years. They are scientifically known to be immensely intelligent and the complex social structures of their family herds closely resemble those of our own. The world would be a much poorer place without vast herds of elephants roaming the African savannahs, or the shy Forest elephants that make the central African jungles their own, or the Asian elephants which have been honoured and deified for their beauty and intelligence in some of the world’s oldest frescoes and friezes,” said Bell.

More soberly Bell said that while countries around the world had destroyed over 60 tons of illegal ivory in the past two years; media reports showed that law enforcers had made at least 70 seizures totalling nearly 20 metric tonnes (22 imperial tons) of contraband ivory since 1 January 2015.

Nearly 35,000 elephants die each year for their ivory and illegal trafficking of wildlife is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually. It ranks among damaging and dangerous global crimes such as trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

Bell said that part of the fight against ivory and illegal wildlife trafficking was disrupting potential markets. “To that end we have seen most recently the EU calling a halt to the importation of elephant trophies among others meaning the import of such items from a huge swath of African countries is now banned in Europe; elsewhere major international airlines are refusing to transport trophies of elephants and other creatures. These are all initiatives which frustrate criminals,” said Bell.

This World Elephant Day, 12 August, IFAW will post a tweet and a picture of an elephant every 15 minutes – 96 in all – on @action4ifaw to commemorate the daily toll of elephants killed for their ivory. Please join us and share the hashtag #every15minutes

As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization has a Memorandum of Understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme with an NGO. IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.

The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people. The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Christina Pretorius (IFAW Southern Africa)
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