conservation, wild animals

Why the number 96 matters

96.

It isn’t a common number that you see in every day life… unless you’re an elephant advocate. That is the number of elephants that are poached every day for their ivory. To many, it is a mentality of out of sight, out of mind. However, elephants contribute to a delicate ecosystem that affects everyone on the planet. Let me lay this out for you:

Certain populations of elephants live in the forest

The forest relies on these elephants to spread their seeds and keep it healthy

When the forest is healthy, trees are healthy

When trees are healthy, they suck up more carbon dioxide and put out more oxygen

Humans put out excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and breathe oxygen

Trees are necessary to absorb the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

See where I’m going with this?

Humans need trees which means humans need elephants!

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So why should I think elephants are worth saving?

Well other than the fact that they help reduce the environmental problems that humans created…

Elephants have been shown to have emotions such as happiness when reunited, trumpeting and vocalizing. As well as mourning the loss of their dead by standing by their side for hours or even days. In addition to their emotions, they have amazing memories. The matriarch can lead her group to water and food based solely on her memory of where she has found them before in times of drought. Elephants also communicate through a very complex set of vocalizations (check out more on elephant communication here: http://www.elephantvoices.org/ ). Elephants can be right-tusked or left-tusked, just like the dominance of human hands. To tell the difference easily and quickly between and African and an Asian elephant, check out the ears. African elephants ears are shaped like the continent of Africa, this adds a whole new meaning to “intelligent design”. And talk about having thick skin! Elephants skin can be up to 1 inch thick; but even so, it is highly prone to sunburn.

Ok so now I think elephants are worth saving, what exactly am I saving them from?

Terrorists and death! At first this sounds outlandish and extreme, however when you look at the commercially driven aspects that drive poaching, it all starts to fall in line. Ivory is even sometimes called the “white gold of the jihad”, that nickname doesn’t just come from smoke and mirrors. Terrorist groups have become experts at poaching elephants and smuggling the ivory out of Africa to make a profit for running their organizations. So if the fact that they cut off the tusks while the elephants are still alive isn’t reason enough to want to save them, not supporting terrorists is a also a pretty solid reason.

Now that we’ve established elephants are awesome and terrorists suck, here’s how you can help!

1. Don’t buy ivory products. Yes, it is that simple.

2. Tell your state legislators that elephant poaching sucks and ivory shouldn’t be sold in your state.

3. Money talks (and helps!). Donate, donate, donate.

4. Post on your social media. People don’t care if they aren’t aware! (just call me Dr. Suess)

5. Go Grey on August 12th, it is World Elephant Day! Refer to the tagline above as to why you should raise awareness!

6. Support organizations like the one who inspired this post http://www.96elephants.org/ You can do all the things that are mentioned above with this organization.

Photo credit: Drew Russell

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