We love our elephants at Utility. From Dancing Darcy Elephant and her best pal Bashful, to our Vitra Eames Elephant and his miniature twin, the Utility elephants feel like part of the family. But far away from Utility in the forests of Asia and the African Savanna, elephants are being poached for their ivory tusks. They are so endangered that by 2020 these beautiful mammals risk becoming extinct.
This month we're launching our Save The Elephants Campaign. 10 % off all profit made on our elephant products will go to the amazing charity Save The Elephants. Save the Elephants provide vital research on elephant behaviour and ecology, assist communities in their efforts to defend elephants against ivory poachers and traffickers, find innovative solutions to stop elephants from raiding crops, and have a huge part in spreading global awareness of the Elephant Crisis. We've learnt a lot about the plight of elephants from this charity. Here's 10 key facts you need to know.
1.The Plight of African Elephants
In 1800 there may have been up to 26 million elephants in Africa alone. They could be found in almost every habitat of the continent, from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Cape of Good Hope. However today after centuries of poaching & habitat destruction, population numbers are a tiny fraction of what they once were. Now it is estimated that less than half a million elephants roam East, West and Central Africa, whilst they have become extinct in the northern part of the continent.
2. The Plight of Asian Elephants
Asian elephants were never as abundant as their African cousins but today they are even more endangered. Asian elephants used to roam from the coast of Persia through India and Southeast Asia and deep into China but now they’re restricted to just 15% of their original range. Less than 50,000 remain in fragmented populations across India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
3. Early Destruction
Humanity's love for ivory goes back a millennia. The Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun was laid to rest around 1323BC on a headrest of ivory, whilst in Syria elephants were more or less wiped out for their ivory by 500BC. In more modern times hunting became fashionable amongst colonialists- Britain imported more ivory than any country in the world during the Victorian Era. This demand for ivory wiped out herds across Africa in the 19th Century .
4. Post-colonial Poaching
African & Asian Independence movements following WW2 sparked a massive post-colonial poaching boom. In a single decade between 1979 and 1989, a pan African census conducted by British Zoologist Ian Hamilton concluded that half of Africa’s elephants were killed because of the ivory trade. In 1989, elephants became added to the UN's endangered species list for the first time.
5. Ban on the International Ivory Trade
Following Hamilton's research Governments came together to ban the international trade of ivory in 1989. This was over seen by the UN Convention for International Trade - CITIES, and paved the way for a short recovery of elephant numbers until 2008. Infiltration of the ivory trade by criminal gangs and a rising consumer demand for Ivory in Asian countries increased the levels of poaching once again. Criminal gangs bribe officials to ship huge quantities of ivory through the ports to illicit factories and markets of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand in particular.
6. Statistics Today
Although elephants have been the victims of poaching for centuries, there has never been a more dangerous time to be an elephant than today. Data released by the UN on World Wildlife Day concluded that Around 20,000 African elephants were killed last year for their tusks, which was more than were born. A recent analysis of wild life population indicated that global wildlife populations will have fallen by a third from the 70s in 2020, with elephants at real risk of extinction by then.
#Regram #RG @mattiasklumofficial: An elephant passing a termite mound (and me) near a river in Abu Camp, Botswana. Here the elephants are relatively safe but more than 100 000 elephants have been killed in Africa the last 3 years! In fact every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its tusks and most countries in Africa don't have adequate capacity to protect their herds. If conservation measures are not effective, elephants may become locally extinct in some parts of Africa within 50 years. Help save the elephants for example by supporting WWF! #elephants #africa #botswana #wwf #peaceparks #iucn #conservation #elephants #africa #stoppoaching #mattiasklum @natgeo @wwf @nature_org @conservationorg @thephotosociety @bigworldsmallplanet @mattiasklumcollection @natgeocreative @irisalexandrov @ansgarklumphotos @naturebyeinar
7. The Illegal Ivory Trade
The demand for ivory in the Far East is the primary driver of the killing of elephants. In the four years up to 2014, the wholesale price of raw ivory in China tripled, reaching the value of $2100 per kilo. This has fuelled organised crime and insecurity as traffickers smuggle tusks through the same networks as other high value illegal goods such as drugs. Interpol estimates the illegal wildlife trade is worth $10-20bn a year, making it the fourth most lucrative black market after drugs, people and arms smuggling.
8. Elephants Vs Humans
The ivory trade is not the only reason elephants get killed. Africa's surging population is encroaching elephant rangelands. When humans & elephants live closely together hungry elephants often raid crops & rampage through villages. Both farmers and elephants can be wounded or killed in the conflict that ensues.
9. The Importance of Elephants
There are so many reasons why we need to keep elephants safe. Firstly, they're so important to tourism - research from the WWF concluded that Africa is losing out on £25m in tourism spending each year due to the illegal wildlife trade that is killing elephants for their ivory. Secondly elephants are keystone species and play an important role in the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live. For example, elephants use their tusks to dig for water during dry season, opening water access for other creatures as well as themselves. Forest elephants create clearings and gaps in the trees that let sunlight in to reach new seedlings, helping plants grow and the forest to regenerate naturally.
10. Conservation work
Though elephants are being poached in numbers that are currently beyond sustainable, inspirational work is being done to save elephants. Earlier this year Kenya set ablaze more than 100 tonnes of seized ivory and introduced a new wildlife law that can inflict a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for poachers. Former poachers are also being recruited to be the world’s first line of defence against the murder of elephants - park rangers. In Botswana, officials have turned from supporting limited ivory trade to calling for an outright ban, and in Gabon elephant fences are being built to reduce human elephant conflict.
Finally to reduce the demand for ivory publicity campaigns have been launched to deter people from buying illegal wildlife products. The proportion of Chinese who believe elephant poaching is a problem grew from 47% to 71% between 2012 and 2014.
Click here to shop our great range of elephant gifts & furniture and remember - 10% off all profit made on our elephants will go to the Save The Elephants charity!