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Elephants are large mammals belonging to the Elephantidae family, within the order Proboscidea. Two types of elephants are distinguished, the African and the Asian, naturally present on their respective continents. Due to various factors derived from human activity, currently, the different species of the two types of elephants are in danger of extinction.

In this Green Ecologist article we will discuss the issue of why elephants are in danger of extinction, taking into account the causes and the most affected species, as well as the ways to avoid this situation.

Why Elephants Are Endangered - Causes

Between the main causes that elephants are in danger of extinction we highlight the following:

Illegal or poaching

Despite the fact that in 1989 the Convention on CITES or International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, prohibited the commercialization of ivory At an international level, there is currently a significant demand for this material, which translates into a increased poaching rate of elephants. It is for this reason that large-scale illegal hunting It is one of the main problems facing elephant conservation in countries such as the United States of America, China or Thailand, where illegal ivory markets persist.

You can learn more about this problem in this other Green Ecologist article on the causes and consequences of poaching animals.

Habitat degradation and loss

Currently, the areas where elephants live, as well as the routes they use in their migrations, are suffering degradation and reduction due to the expansion of human settlements, plantations and the continued construction of infrastructure such as roads, canals, etc. This loss of habitat exacerbates the conflict between elephants and humansAs animals are forced to invade human-occupied areas in search of food, which negatively affects farmers who are ruining their fields. One of the most important ways to habitat destruction It is through deforestation, which destroys the forests inhabited by certain species of elephants. Of course, local and global pollution, as well as global warming are also factors that influence habitat destruction.

Here you can learn more general information about the Destruction of the environment and habitat, its causes and consequences.

Is the African elephant in danger of extinction?

The african elephants they are the largest land animals in the world. Genetic studies have shown that the African elephant, belonging to the genus Loxodonta, it differs into two separate species: the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), which diverged evolutionarily between 2 and 7 million years ago.

The African savanna elephant is the larger of the two and is more widely distributed across the African continent than the forest one. Both the African savanna elephant and African forest elephant have been classified in the category of vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Is the Asian elephant in danger of extinction?

The Asian ElephantFor its part, it has three subspecies: the Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), the Indian elephant or elephant of India (Elephas maximus indicus) and the Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus). Additionally, there is a fourth type of Asian elephant, the Borneo elephant, of which it is doubted if it can be classified as a separate subspecies or if, on the contrary, it is the Indian elephant, since its exact origin is unknown..

The Sri Lankan elephant is the largest and darkest colored Asian elephant subspecies. As its name suggests, it inhabits Sri Lanka and, currently, this and other species of elephants are in danger of extinction due to the fact that both their populations and their area of distribution have been notably diminished during the last century as consequence of deforestation and for the animal exploitation, especially for tourism issues. The Indian elephant, lighter in color than the Sri Lankan elephant but darker than the Sumatran elephant, is also in danger of extinction according to the IUCN. The Sumatran elephant differs from the other two Asian elephant subspecies in that it has a lighter skin color. According to the IUCN Red List, this Asian elephant is critically endangered. In this other article you can learn more information about the endangered Sumatran elephant.

How to help endangered elephants

Once we understand why elephants are in danger of extinction, we must try to become aware of the seriousness of this situation, since the disappearance of species always has repercussions on their ecosystems and, sometimes, these can be very serious and perhaps the ecosystem find it difficult to balance again, among other things. So if you want to know how to help elephants to avoid their extinctionLet's look at the ways you can help mitigate this below.

  • Necessary reduce conflict between elephants and humans. For this, there are immediate measures of awareness of the population about this issue in order to increase their support for elephant conservation. This measure falls on the teaching of new methods and tools to mitigate this conflictive situation both to local communities and to wildlife agents in the affected areas. These tools include techniques to safely drive elephants out of human-populated areas and return to the forests, as well as the normalization of human-elephant coexistence and the potential benefits derived from this, such as those entailed. sustainable and responsible tourism. Another measure consists of the installation of warning systems that protect farmland by monitoring elephants or building defensive fences. In the long term, it seeks the development and implementation of appropriate land use plans that guarantee the necessary space for elephants for their seasonal migrations and that contemplate the installation of measures to protect human infrastructures.
  • Increase anti-poaching or illegal hunting efforts by training professionals dedicated to its monitoring and prevention, as well as by increasing patrols in protected areas and conducting periodic assessments of the distribution and number of elephants. At the same time, it is necessary to develop action plans at the national level for the conservation and protection of elephants that can be used by governments in taking conservation measures, as well as for the establishment of national parks that protect certain habitats and their fauna. Here you can find out more about How to avoid poaching.
  • Elimination of illegal ivory trade by monitoring international wildlife trafficking that reduces threats to elephants. There is an Elephant Trafficking Information System (ETIS) that identifies routes and countries of particular importance in the illegal ivory trade.
  • Protection of elephant habitats from the collaboration of governments, the population and non-governmental organizations, with the aim of ensuring the future of elephants. This includes, for example, the establishment of transboundary conservation areas, such as the Kavango-Zambezi, which offers shelter to about 250,000 elephants.
  • Investigations are necessary to establish new protected areas and the improvement of management in existing ones. The level of effectiveness of conservation projects lies in the evaluation of the conservation status of the different populations existing in different parts of Africa and Asia to better direct conservation efforts to the areas that most require it. In this other post you can learn about The importance of reserves and protected areas.
  • In a more individual way, you can help protect elephants by collaborating with associations and NGOs dedicated to the protection of these and other animals, either financially and / or with volunteers.

In this other Green Ecologist article we explain why it is important to protect endangered animals and we also give more ideas on how we can help prevent their disappearance.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why Elephants Are EndangeredWe recommend that you enter our category of Endangered Animals.

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