With the celebrated birth of a baby elephant at the Oregon Zoo on Nov. 30, our community is fascinated with this beautiful animal. Recent announcements on the pending controversy on how we manage these highly sophisticated and sensitive large mammals in our country's zoos continue. But I am saddened that we are not also raising awareness and talking about the thousands of elephants being poached and slaughtered each year for their ivory tusks.
No other animal triggers a more heated debate within the conservation circles than the elephant, for no other animal is more "human" emotionally. And yet thousands of elephants die each year so that their tusks may be carved into religious objects. Killing African elephants for their ivory is devastating a species that's already losing ground to a growing human population. In 2011 poaching and seizures of illegal ivory hit the highest levels in a decade.
Authorities are losing the fight to control illegal poaching of elephants. We can help these endangered species by not buying ivory and by supporting wildlife foundations in countries that are trying to protect them. To learn more about elephants or to help foster an orphaned elephant, click on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust link.