How long will the Elephants Survive?
How, amidst NATO's missile-defense problems in Europe, the refugee situation in the middle East & Europe, a possible nuclear Iran and the economic failings of modern nations, unemployment and inflation, can the future of the elephant be so urgent?
It is not on the radar of the media nor is it a priority for most people. The answer comes from our ability to affirm life in its moral, ethical and in its spiritual dimensions.
The elephant helped us walk out of Africa perhaps 60,000 years ago. We learned from tribal elders in east Africa that elephants, because they knew where to find water, helped humanity survive. It was alongside them that we populated the New World.
In a society fixated on growth and money, TEEB, (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) has plainly demonstrated the irreplaceable value of biodiversity, which yearly provides trillions of dollars of value. The forests, oceans, whales and elephants of the world must now enter the balance sheet of ultimate consideration.
We have reached the point as a global civilization where we must fight for life and the meaning of life, and much of that stands in the body of the elephant and other fellow species, as well as the forests and the oceans of the world. This battle must not be lost.
Elephants are one of the pillars of existence. We must never tell nor have to tell the children -- "This is where the wild things were."
The fate of the forest elephant rests in our hands. But will it go the way of the woolly mammoth, as it is hunted for ivory and its habitat is destroyed? The Asian elephant has suffered a 75 per cent population decline and could die out completely, researchers warn today.
An audit of elephant conservation indicates that poachers and the destruction of the creature's jungle habitat have contributed to numbers falling from 160,000 in 1950 to 40,000 now.
"Everybody is avoiding the issue. The respect and admiration for this animal is not backed up with any real action to save it. As a result of this, Asian elephants are going to fade away,"
The history of the Asian Elephant is a dismal reminder of the cruelty man can inflict on one species. This majestic being has not only been poached for his ivory tusks, but exploited to extinction in the name of commerce. Today, in the 21st century, Asian Elephants are forced into harsh labor for trekking, begging, logging, tourist camps, zoos, circuses, captive breeding programs and display at religious temples across Vietnam, Thailand, Mayanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. For thousands of years, wild Asian Elephants have been captured from their wild habitat and turned into indentured slaves, most being used by man for war, transportation, logging, ceremonies, and construction. The popularity of circuses, festivals, shows, elephant back rides, painting, and begging are growing in countries such as Thailand, Laos, and India. Elephants which were once taught to push, pull, and lift, are now learning to beg on the streets, ride a bicycle, throw darts, play football, or paint pictures."
Today, throughout the world, including progressive western culture, Asian Elephants endure abuse, cruelty, starvation and inhumane confinement in the name of human entertainment and tourism. A January 25, 2012 article from The Nation entitled "Asian Elephants Are Being Killed for Tourist Dollars" confirms that "in many parts of Asia baby elephants are being taken out of the jungles and forests and sold to the highest bidder who will then "tame" the baby elephant into submission and induct it into a life of misery entertaining tourists. Matriarchs are being shot and so are bond members and sub-adult males still with the herd who try to protect the calves from kidnappers and poachers. Poachers, who have been interviewed, say it is common to kill up to three elephants to take one baby from the forest. Once a few elephants are killed, the baby elephant stays close to the dead adults while the rest of the herd usually runs for safety. Poachers then have limited time to get the baby out, fearing the return of the herd and/or any witnesses attracted by the sound of gunshots."
Based on everything we know about the intelligence and complex consciousness of elephants, the abduction of elephants from their families in the wild for the purpose of human entertainment is unpardonable. As Edwin Wiek, comments," for any tourist visiting an elephant camp and riding these beautiful animals, attending a religious temple to see the elephants, or feeding elephants on the streets, the latest information has serious implications. People who ignore what is occurring effectively support the killing and torture of wild-born elephants and their life long abuse."
Forest elephants are suffering from the same "double whammy" that claimed the woolly mammoths - habitat loss and hunting. Today both of those sides of the pinch are caused by humans. The extinction of the mammoth is a salutary lesson that applies to modern extinctions. Many experts fear that time has already run out for the forest elephant. It could be too late for the lessons we could learn from the mammoth and the mastodon to make a positive difference. We have seen some exciting initiatives like the development of national parks and landscape scale management programmes developed over the last 20 years, but the resources needed to manage these areas properly are pitiful compared to those available for resource extraction.
Is it all too late already……………?