August 12 is World Elephant Day, a day in which we honor and reflect upon the grandeur and plight of Asian and African Elephants.
The largest and among the most intelligent land animal on earth, there are today two species of elephants: the larger African elephant, and the smaller Asian elephant. Elephants and their ancestors once roamed across the globe, but today, wild populations are confined to decreasing areas of land in Africa and Asia.
The biggest threat to elephants is poaching, and with ivory exceeding the price of gold, African elephants are now listed by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, and Asian as Endangered. Other threats to elephants include habitat loss, human encroachment and conflict, and illegal capture for the tourism industry.
Since 2010, nearly 40,000 elephants a year have been killed – nearly 100 elephants every day. The tusks are carved into ornate sculptures and wind up in nearly every country in the world, showing the truly global nature of the illegal wildlife trade. Such a global problem requires a global and collaborative response, and the United Kingdom is working with governments and NGO partners throughout the world to combat this insidious trade.
Elephants have a tremendous cultural and religious significance in Vietnam. Historically elephants graced the Royal Courts and were revered by Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. In later times elephants played a crucial transportation role in times of war.
Today there are fewer than 70 wild elephants in Vietnam, putting elephants at critical risk of extinction in the country. To combat this threat , the government of Vietnam has made efforts to protect elephants including the creation of elephant protection areas in Dak Lak, Dong Nai and Nghe An provinces; the three areas with the largest populations of elephants. The Government of Vietnam also developed education and awareness campaigns and will attempt to mobilize the support of the Vietnamese people to reduce demand for ivory. The Embassy of the United Kingdom in Vietnam is working with the Government of Vietnam to raise awareness and strengthen law enforcement to combat this and other types of illegal wildlife trade.
Everyone has a role to play in elephant conservation and you can help. Saying no to buying ivory is one easy way, but other ways include:
- Supporting safe and ethical eco-tourism – tourism benefits the economy, supports local livelihoods and deters poachers and abuse.
- Being aware of elephant habitat- avoid products with palm oil or other crops and timber products that have a detrimental impact on elephant range land.
- Not supporting organizations that exploit or abuse elephants and other animals for entertainment- such as circuses and un-ethical tourism.
The Secretariat of the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade.