World Elephant Day

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World Elephant Day
Kissing Elephants.JPG
Date(s)August 12
Established12 August 2012 (2012-08-12)
FounderPatricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation

World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world's elephants. Conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures, and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand, it was officially founded, supported and launched by Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation on August 12, 2012.[1] Since that time, Patricia Sims continues to lead and direct World Elephant Day, which is now supported by over 65 wildlife organizations[2] and many individuals in countries across the globe.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]


The goal of International Elephant Day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. African elephants are listed as "Vulnerable" and Asian elephants as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.[12][13] One conservationist has stated that both African and Asian elephants face extinction within twelve years.[14] The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants, although it has been argued that these numbers are much too high.[15]


The first International Elephant Day was held on August 12, 2012.[16][17][18] The film Return to the Forest, narrated by William Shatner, is about the reintroduction of captive Asian elephants to the wild[19][20] and was released on the inaugural World Elephant Day.[21] The follow-up feature film When Elephants Were Young, also narrated by William Shatner, depicts the life of a young man and young elephant in Thailand.



The demand for ivory, which is highest in China,[22][23][24][25][26] leads to the illegal poaching of both African and Asian elephants. For example, one of the world's largest elephants, Satao, was recently killed for his iconic tusks.[27][28] Another iconic Kenyan elephant, Mountain Bull, was also killed by poachers, and with the street value for ivory now exceeding that of gold,[29][30] African elephants face a poaching epidemic.[31][32] Elephants are also poached for meat, leather, and body parts, with the illegal wildlife trade putting elephants increasingly in danger, because it is perceived to be a low risk and high profit endeavor.[33][34][35] Poachers are often considered trained for this activity due to the amount of tools needed to be transported as well as the large size of these animals.

Habitat loss[edit]

The loss of habitat due to deforestation, increases in mining, and agricultural activities has become problematic, especially for Asian elephants.[36][37] The fragmentation of habitat also creates isolation - this makes breeding more difficult, and allows poachers to find the elephants and set traps more easily.[38] Asian elephants have lost nearly 30-40% of their habitat making it incredibly difficult to maintain their offspring and themselves.

Human-elephant conflict[edit]

Human-elephant conflict is a significant concern, as human populations increase and forest cover decreases, forcing elephants into close proximity with human settlements.[39] Incidents include crop damage and economic losses, as well as both elephant and human casualties.[40]

Mistreatment in captivity[edit]

A lack of legislation regarding the care and treatment of elephants in zoos, circuses, and tourism often leads to their mistreatment.[41][42][43] Captivity can be a serious threat to elephants, and Asian elephants are often illegally captured in the wild and trafficked into the lucrative tourism industry.[44][45]

Celebrity voices[edit]

Many notable celebrities have spoken out about the urgency of elephant protection, including Leonardo DiCaprio,[46] Kristin Davis,[47] William Shatner,[48] Yao Ming,[49] Prince William,[50] Jorja Fox,[51] Alec Baldwin,[52] Stephen Fry,[53] Ashley Judd,[54] Jada Pinkett Smith,[55] Kathryn Bigelow,[56] and politicians such as Barack Obama,[57] and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.[58][59]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Elephant Reintroduction Foundation", World Elephant Day website
  2. ^ "Associates", World Elephant Day website
  3. ^ Xinhua, "World Elephant Day brings attention to elephants' plight", The Global Times, 2013
  4. ^ Philip Mansbridge, "Is This Year's World Elephant Day the Last Chance for Elephants?", The Huffington Post, 2013
  5. ^ Raj Phukan, "World Elephant Day celebrated at Nagaon", Assam Times, 2013
  6. ^ Jennifer Viegas, "Elephants Get Unlikely Help -- But Is It Enough?", Discovery News, 2013
  7. ^ "World Elephant Day - Thailand Must Shut Down Ivory Trade", Chiangrai Times, 2013
  8. ^ "12 years until elephants are all wiped out as one dies every 15 minutes", Metro, 2013
  9. ^ Jason Bell, "World Elephant Day - time to take stock", Africa Geographic, 2013
  10. ^ Bettina Wassener, "Mourning the Elephants", The New York Times, 2012
  11. ^ Fidelis E. Satriastanti, "Sumatran Elephants Still Face Imminent Threats", Jakarta Globe, 2013
  12. ^ "Loxodonta Africana (African elephant)", IUCN
  13. ^ "Elephas maximus (Asian elephant, Indian elephant)", IUCN
  14. ^ John Ingham, "Elephants 'extinct within 12 years'", Express, 2013
  15. ^ "Status of Elephant Populations, Levels of Illegal Killing and the Trade in Ivory: A Report to the Standing Committee of CITES", CITES
  16. ^ "Overview", World Elephant Day website
  17. ^ Maria Sowter, "World Elephant Day This Sunday", Into The Wild, 2012
  18. ^ "World Elephant Day 2012", The Huffington Post, 2012
  19. ^ "Elephants Return to the Forest", American Museum of Natural History
  20. ^ "Elephant Reintroduction Foundation", Elephant Reintroduction Foundation website
  21. ^ "Return to the Forest", World Elephant Day website
  22. ^ Damian Grammaticas, "Uncovering China's illegal ivory trade", BBC News, 2014
  23. ^ Brendon Hong, "China's Blood Ivory Bazaar", The Daily Beast, 2014
  24. ^ Per Liljas, "The Ivory Trade Is Out of Control, and China Needs to Do More to Stop It", Time Magazine, 2013
  25. ^ "Ivory demand in China, Thailand led to killing of 20,000 African elephants last year", The Rakyat Post, 2014
  26. ^ Paula Kahumbu, "China must send a clear message to consumers on ivory trade", The Guardian, 2013
  27. ^ Christine Dell'Amore, "Beloved African Elephant Killed for Ivory -- "Monumental" Loss", National Geographic, 2014
  28. ^ Mfonobong Nsehe, "World Famous Elephant 'Satao' Killed By Poachers In Kenya", Forbes, 2014
  29. ^ Zoe Flood, "Satao, one of Africa's largest elephants, killed by poachers for ivory tusks weighing more than 45 kg", National Post, 2014
  30. ^ Ed Mazza, "Satao The Elephant Killed By Poachers In Kenya", The Huffington Post, 2014
  31. ^ Brian Jackman, "Poaching in Africa: Selous Game Reserve warning highlights scale of epidemic", Telegraph, 2014
  32. ^ Melissa Hellmann, "African-Elephant Poaching Soars as Ivory Prices Triple in China", Time Magazine, 2014
  33. ^ "Illegal wildlife trade threatens national security, says WWF report", TRAFFIC, 2012
  34. ^ Melissa Hellmann, "African-Elephant Poaching Soars as Ivory Prices Triple in China", Time Magazine, 2014
  35. ^ Alex Hofford, "Illegal wildlife trade along the Burma-China border - in pictures", The Guardian, 2014
  36. ^ "Asian Elephants: Threats and Solutions", American Museum of Natural History
  37. ^ Dave Armstrong, "Forest loss accelerates", The Earth Times, 2014
  38. ^ Kevin Heath, "United Nations launches emergency appeal for Sumatran elephants", Wildlife News, 2014
  39. ^ Sanjay Gubbi, M.H. Swaminath, H.C. Poornesha, Rashmi Bhat, and R. Raghunath, "An elephantine challenge: human-elephant conflict distribution in the largest Asian elephant population, southern India", Biodiversity and Conservation, 2014
  40. ^ "5 jumbos damage crops, run amuck near Soolagiri", The Times of India, 2014
  41. ^ Sangita Iyer, "Seeing the Mistreatment of Elephants in India Was Haunting", Huffington Post, 2014
  42. ^ "Animal Rights Activists Say Elephants Forced To Do Handstands By Chinese Zoo", International Business Times, 2014
  43. ^ Ed Stewart, "No Ethical Way to Keep Elephants in Captivity", National Geographic, 2013
  44. ^ Richard Thomas, "Thailand must act to prevent resurgence of illegal wild elephant trade", Wildlife News, 2014
  45. ^ Lindsay Murdoch, "Baby elephants captured, mistreated, to supply Thailand's tourism industry", The Sydney Morning Herald, 2014
  46. ^ "Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Donates $1 Million to Elephant Crisis Fund", Wildlife Conservation Network, 2014
  47. ^ Susanna Rustin, "Kristin Davis: 'Ivory is basically a blood diamond'", The Guardian, 2012
  48. ^ William Shatner, "World Elephant Day is Today", Twitter, 2012
  49. ^ Russell Flannery, "Yao Ming Targets Elephant Poaching, Ivory Trade In New Campaign With WildAid", Forbes, 2013
  50. ^ Sarah Morrison, "Prince William wants 'all royal ivory destroyed'", The Independent, 2014
  51. ^ "Jorja Fox takes on the elephant abusers in new ADI video", Animal Defenders International, 2012
  52. ^ Michelle Kretzer, "Alec Baldwin to USDA: Seize the Elephants", PETA, 2012
  53. ^ "Stephen Fry's Elephant Tweet", For Elephants International, 2013
  54. ^ Nigel M. Smith, "Watch: Ashley Judd Speaks Up for the Elephants in 'The Eyes of Thailand' Trailer", IndieWire, 2012
  55. ^ Jill Rosen, "Jada Pinkett Smith urges SRB to protect elephants", The Baltimore Sun, 2012
  56. ^
  57. ^ Melissa Mahony, "Elephant in the room no more: Obama bans ivory sales", Salon, 2014
  58. ^ Rhett A. Butler, "Chelsea, Hillary Clinton urge action to save elephants",, 2014
  59. ^ Philip Mansbridge, "Is This Year's World Elephant Day the Last Chance for Elephants?", The Huffington Post, 2013

External links[edit]