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Home » Did You Know? » World Elephant Day

World Elephant Day

August 12, 2017

World Elephant Day is an global 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.

The day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.

There are two species of elephants, African and Asian, and while they are similar in physiology, they are too biologically different to interbreed.

African elephants are comprised of two different species (forest and savannah), a new scientific finding discloses that ancient giant elephants living 1.5 million to 100,000 years ago across Eurasia (before eventually becoming extinct) are more closely related to the African forest elephants of today than the forest elephants are related to African savannah elephants! Prior to this finding, most experts agreed that the ancient species of giant elephant was most closely linked to the Asian elephant.

A third species?
Recent scientific findings suggest that the forest-dwelling African elephant is a genetically distinct species, making it a third elephant species.

The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants. Working towards better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous elephant conservation organizations are focusing on around the world.


  • Asian Elephant
    The Asian elephant is endangered with less than 40,000 remaining worldwide.
  • African Elephant
    The African elephant (Forest and Savannah) is threatened with less than 400,000 remaining worldwide.
  • Asian Elephant Range
    Asian elephants range in 13 countries. In the past 50 years, the Asian elephant range has shrunk by over 70%.
  • In Asia there are approximately 70,000 people to 1 elephant across their range.There were over 100,000 elephants in Thailand at the beginning of last century. There are less than 4,000 today.
  • Captivity
    One out of every three Asian elephants left in the world is a captive animal.
  • Recent research suggests that captive elephants suffer long-term depression over the trauma of their capture and captivity, as well as drastically shortened life spans.
  • The famous elephants from the Ringling Bros. circus performed for the last time on May 1st, 2016. They are now retired in the circus’s conservation center.
  • The African elephant weighs 22,000 pounds and is the planet’s largest land animal.
  • The Asian elephant is the second largest, weighing around 10,000 pounds.
  • An elephant’s trunk has more than 40,000 muscles, more than all the muscles in the human body. They can tear down trees or pick up a blade of grass with their trunks.
  • Elephants have the longest gestation period of any animal at almost 22 months. A newborn elephant can weigh up to 260 pounds.
  • At 11 pounds, the elephant has a brain that is larger than any other land animal in the world.In 1989, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) issued an international ban on the ivory trade. Despite this, legal trade still exists in many countries, including Japan, and the black market continues to do a brisk business.
  • 2013 saw the greatest quantity of ivory confiscated in the last 25 years.
  • Tusks are found in African elephants of both sexes while only in Asian males. Some female African elephants are now being born without tusks in a genetic mutation caused by poaching.
  • An African bull’s tusks can grow to over 11 feet long and weigh 220 pounds, however, the average weight of a mature elephant tusk typically ranges from 80 to over 150 pounds (80 pounds = 36kg; 150 pounds = 68kg).


Source: www.worldelephantday.org / www.en.wikipedia.org
Image Credit: www.worldelephantday.org

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