Elephants are the giants of the animal kingdom. However, TRAFFIC® (the wildlife trade monitoring network) estimates that approximately 55 African Elephants are poached every day!
The Elephant Project.
There are two species of Elephant; the Asian and African Elephants of which the latter occurs in South Africa:
1. The Asian Elephant – Elephas maximus is now restricted to South-East Asia.
An Asian Elephant – © Brenda Vermeulen
2. The African Elephant – Loxodonta africana occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa naturally. African Elephants – © André Vermeulen
Elephants are the largest, living land mammals in the world and the most obvious difference between the two species is the size of their ears. The African Elephant has much larger ears relative to its head.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade does not threaten a specie’s survival, lists the Asian Elephant in Appendix I, the highest degree of protection in terms of the Convention. South Africa is a signatory and has written CITES into our law. The African Elephant in South Africa is listed in Appendix II, with annotation, of the Convention.
In terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004, of the Republic South Africa, the African Elephant is listed as Protected.
According to the 2018 International Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™ that lists assessed species of plants and animals into categories according to their risk of extinction:
The African Elephant is listed as Vulnerable.
Did you know that elephants can run at speeds of up to 40km/h and no human can run as fast.
Apps, P. 2000. Wild Ways. Field Guide to the Behaviour of Southern African Mammals. Cape Town. Struik.
Elephants are mostly sought after for their ivory, but their hides, meat, bones and hair are also found in the trade.
Some trafficked items derived from elephants are listed below:
An Elephant hair bracelet – © Johann Vermeulen
Elephant tusks, ivory carvings, foot stools, a trunk, and leather products – © Johann Vermeulen
A leather belt with an ivory buckle – © GreenLaw Foundation
Elephant ivory jewellery and chopsticks – © GreenLaw Foundation
Some antique pianos have ivory-clad keys – © Johann Vermeulen