Home Eco-Travel Feature Latest Edition Headlines NBT Archives
 Feature, Edition 1

Elephant Society in Trouble:

Disturbing Evidence from Around the World

Reverence and respect for elephants by humans dates back to the dawn of civilization. It is reflected in Eastern and African mythology, literature, art and religion, all of which celebrate the remarkable intelligence and human qualities of elephants. In some countries such as India and Thailand, elephants are worshipped and even viewed as the incarnation of gods. Despite this, and despite mounting evidence that elephants are even more intelligent and sentient than we imagined, abuse intensifies.

In Africa, the elephant population stood at 3 million in the mid 70's. Today, less than 250,000 remain, with herds increasingly isolated and vulnerable. According to Dafne Sheldrick, head of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, pressures are intensifying.

Over the last 80 years, elephants have been the victims of civil wars (Uganda) suffered from poaching by local tribesmen, decimation from game hunters and circuses, and destruction from misguided wildlife managers (culling). The case was recently made in both the New York Times Magazine (October 8, 2006) and the British science journal, Nature (February 24,2005). continued