Photograph published by Zander
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its ivory. This amounts to 96 elephants per day, thousands upon thousands per year (in 2011, record numbers for elephant poaching were reached at 22,000 elephants in one year — 2013 has already surpassed this number by 20%). Elephants in Africa struggle against poachers while Asian Elephants are finding their migratory routes disrupted by high speed trains, their forest homes being destroyed for palm oil plantations and humans stealing their babies to domesticate and use them for tourism in the big cities (elephant street beggars, elephants “playing” in the ocean, forest ele-rides and more). And although outlawed in many areas, using elephants for logging is still big business. Then there are the elephants in captivity around the world suffering from EEHV, arthritis and obesity. The future looks bleak for the world’s largest land mammal.
To be honest, this often overwhelms me. I love elephants deeply and understand the crucial role they play in the ecosystem. Elephants create paths through forests that are used by humans and other animals. These paths also allow sunlight to reach the bottom of the forests to help regenerate the ground foliage. Elephants use their tusks to dig for water, allowing other animals to drink from the newly created water pools in otherwise dry places. Elephants eat a LOT. And that means thousands of plants depend of elephants for their survival, since the elephant distributes the plants seeds across thousands of miles. The list could go on and on about the physical benefits elephants bring to the ecosystem.
But we don’t just need elephants for survival - we need them for our soul. Elephants are some of the most caring animals in all of the animal kingdom. Scientists are amazed at how a herd displays emotions, how a herd cares for one another, how sometimes a herd even cares for other elephants from outside the herd. There was even a case of an elephant caring for a completely different species such as dogs, rhinos & even humans (click on the link to read more about altruism in elephants)! There is something magical about Elephants. If we lose these creatures, we will lose a part of ourselves.
And that is why I started Elephantopia. To raise awareness about these amazing creatures, to educate others about the peril they are in and to provide opportunities for people like you and me to create a harmonious future for elephants and humans to co-exist. Right now it is estimated that 70% of the illegal ivory trade goes to China & two-thirds of Chinese people do not realize that ivory is obtained only by killing an elephant. And what about where I live, here in the US? Or where you live? How many people know what is going on? How many people even care? That’s where Elephantopia comes in. This page is meant to educate and endear people to elephants.
Sometimes I worry, “is this enough?” The late Nelson Mandela, a man whom the Chicago Tribune stated “achieved more than could be expected of any man,” is quoted as saying (and believing!):
“EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.”
Help change the world. Please share Elephantopia with your friends and family. Let’s continue to teach and share our love of elephants with others.
Federico Veronesi Photography
P.S. Stay tuned for exciting news! This January 2014, I am moving forward to registering Elephantopia as a formal non-profit. There are some very exciting plans in store!