The largest terrestrial animal
Elephants, in fact, place such great demands on their own environment that they frequently come into conflict with people who are competing for many of the same, often scarce, resources.
The Asian elephant has four hooves (occasionally five) on the hind foot and five on the forefoot, while the African elephant has three on the hind foot and five on the forefoot.
Although poaching of elephants for their ivory has declined since the 1989 worldwide ivory ban, it remains a widespread problem. Large quantities of African ivory, for example, are still finding their way to illegal markets in Africa and beyond. Elephants are also killed for their meat and hides.
Habitat loss also a concern
A more long-term threat is the reduction of habitat available to elephants in the face of expanding human populations. Habitat loss isolates many wild elephant populations, with ancient migratory routes cut off by human settlements.
Habitat loss and degradation also increases confrontations between elephants and people, often leading to deaths on both sides.
Cameroon elephant slaughter
Cameroon elehant slaughter
Between January and March of this year, heavily-armed foreign poachers invaded Cameroon and killed over 300 elephants in Bouba N’Djida National Park.
Since the incident, which drew worldwide media attention, Cameroon has moved to bolster security in its protected areas, including deploying 60 new ecoguards to secure Bouba N’Djida and monitor the park’s remaining wildlife. Two rangers recently received gunshot wounds while pursuing a potential poacher adjacent to the park.
Read: Cameroon increases elephant protection after mass slaughter
The problems facing elephants in Asia and Africa are varied and complex. WWF works to conserve elephants on both continents through specific programmes aiming to improve elephant protection and management, build capacity within range states, mitigate human-elephant conflict and reduce illegal trade.
How you can help
- Don't buy ivory products. Illegal trade in elephant ivory is a continuing problem, posing one of the greatest threats to elephants today.
- Use and support sustainable palm oil. By purchasing certified sutainable palm oil, retailers, traders, and manufacturers can help limit the conversion of Asian elephant habitat into oil palm plantations. Consumers can also help by demanding that products contain only sustainable palm oil.
- Buy a gift of chilies, dung and engine oil! Help reduce human-elephant conflict in Africa through this unique purchase.
- Adopt an elephant: WWF-US & International | WWF-UK
- Donate to WWF to help support our elephant conservation work.
- Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.