Cuban Crocodile

Today’s endangered species comes from the Reptilia class (no relation to the song by The Strokes). It’s in the genus, Crocodylus which includes alligators and caiman. The Cuban crocodile has a very small distribution. Over time it’s been limited to two small swamps of Cuba; the Zapata Swamp and the Lanier Swamp on the Isla de Juventad (Isle of Youth). Both of these swamps are freshwater swamps. The Cuban crocodile goes by “Crocodile De Cuba” in French and “Cocodrilo De Cuba” in Spanish.

These crocodiles are medium sized in comparison to the native American crocodile. They average at about 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) long and weigh about 287 pounds (130 kilograms). Although they live in freshwater swamps, they are very much terrestrial creatures. Their feet do not have webbing which is indication of how much time they spend on land versus water and they have short, broad heads with bony ridges running between their eyes. They also have what’s known as “pearly” pattern on their back which are black and yellow spots and distinguish them from other crocodiles.

(As scary as he may look, how can anyone deny the existence of dinosaurs?!)

Diet of the Cuban crocodile mainly consists of hutias (resembles a cross between a beaver and a rat) and freshwater turtles. They have very broad back teeth that are strong enough crush turtle shells. Cuban crocodiles have also been historically known to prey on the giant sloth (remember last week’s post? Sadly, the giant sloth is extinct). Breeding season for the Cuban crocodile starts around May and June. Females will either dig a hole for their nest or build a mound nest for their eggs. Eggs size is around 20-40 in the wild.

The Cuban crocodile is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red list with less than 4,000 individuals left. The major threats to this reptiles include illegal hunting, habitat loss and hybridization. Hunters poach the Cuban crocodile to sale their meat to private restaurants who participate in the tourist industry. Habitat destruction is self explanatory given their restrictions to two tiny swamps. Hybridization refers to the Cuban crocodile mating with it’s American cousin, muddying the Cuban crocodile gene pool and lowering genetic diversity overall.

Conversation of this species is pretty much at a standstill. In 2008, when the species was listed as critical, a few conservation measures were put in place such as captive breeding programs and reintroduction but illegal hunting still continues as well as hybridization. Hopefully, some new monitoring legislation can be put into place that ultimately saves this beastie from extinction.

(Source: Arkive)

Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth

Today’s endangered species is brought to you by a video I stumbled upon browsing my Twitter feed last night. There are two main types of sloths; two-toed and three-toed. Within those two types, there are six species of sloth: maned sloth, pale-throated sloth, brown-throated sloth, Linnaues’s two-toed sloth, Hoffman’s two-toed sloth and the pygmy three-toed sloth. Of the six species, 4 of the populations are doing well but the maned sloth is listed as vulnerable and the pygmy three-toed sloth is critically endangered.

8900 years ago, pygmy three-toed sloths were found in the rainforests of Central America, specifically the Panama coast. Today however, the pygmy-three toed sloth is only found in red mangroves on one small island off the Panamanian coast called Isla Escudo or Escudo de Veraguas. During the Pleistocene period, or the Ice Age, there was a huge, diverse population of sloths with the pygmy three-toed being a lot larger than it is today. However, right around the Holene Epoch, or the age of man, population size began to decrease and habits became extremely isolated resulting in insular dwarfism. This occurs when a species is confined to a small area and depends on very limited resources.

The pygmy three-toed sloths are a greyish-tan color with black bands around their eyes. Males have an orange stripe down their back with a black line slashing vertically through it. They also have long hair that hangs around their face giving them the nick name “monk sloth” cause it looks like a hood. Their other distinct trait is that they have 3 toes versus the mainland sloths that only have two toes. They only weigh about 5-7 pounds in comparison to their cousins who weigh closer to 10 pounds or more. They spend most of their times in trees as they are pros at climbing. It’s very rare to see a pygmy three-toed sloth on the ground and if you do, they are doing their version of a crawl or going to the bathroom. They go go seven days without urinating or defecating. Pygmy three-toed sloths are also adept swimmers! In fact, the video I mentioned before showcased a pygmy three-toed sloth swimming to find his mate.

Speaking of mating, there are no lengths a sloth won’t go to to find his mate. A male is attracted to a female by the loud calls or vocalizations she makes. Sexual maturity for a sloth occurs around three years of age and offspring are born after about six months to a year. A female sloth has one offspring who clings to her underside throughout it’s first year. its It’s very rare for a sloth to bear twins. Pygmy three-toed sloths are herbivores. They feed on the leaves of the mangrove trees they live in.

The main threats to these little guys are deforestation. Since their habitat is already quite small, the destruction of the mangrove trees could lead to rapid extinction. There is a small population of natives that live on the island but secret hunting of the pygmy three-toed sloth for their meat is also a huge concern. And finally, the threat of turning the island into a tourist attraction would definitely mean the end for these beasties considering population count estimates are about 200 or less. This sadly means that genetic diversity is quite low.

The only main conservation effort that has been made is that Isla Escudo is listed as a protected wildlife refuge. However, it’s loosely enforced. Since about 2013, conservationists have been trying to come up with a comprehensive conservation plan that involves the natives as well as the scientific community to help prevent this species from going extinct. There are a few organizations you can donate to to help this cause. Click the names to find out more or to donate: The Sloth Conservation Foundation, The Zoological Society of London, The Amazon Aid Foundation.

As a bonus, here’s the video by BBC Earth that prompted this post:

(Source: EDGE, OurEndangeredWorld)

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Today’s endangered species comes from Chile. It’s called the Monkey Puzzle Tree. It’s also known as the Pehuén, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine and Pino Araucana. Comes from the Family Aracucariaceae (don’t ask me how to pronounce that one) which is species of evergreen conifers but it’s not actually the same as your average pine tree. The name came from the idea that it would be a real puzzle if a monkey tried to climb this tree but, fun fact, there are no monkeys in Chile anyway!

The monkey puzzle tree is a very ancient species. These trees were alive over 200 million years ago! That means they’ve been around since dinosaurs and scientists believe that these ancient animals used monkey puzzle trees as protection from other predators. Today they are located in the Chilean Coastal Range and Andes Mountains of Argentina because they thrive really well in volcanic soil.

The appearance of a monkey puzzle tree is quite fascinating or bizarre depending on the individual. They have a sort of pyramid shape as young saplings with spiky, stiff leaves that completely cover the branches. A lot of people like to say these trees look like reptiles because the leaves almost resemble plates of scales. When the tree is fully mature, it loses its lower branches and becomes very top heavy going from a pyramid shape to an umbrella shape. Monkey puzzle trees can grow to be 150 feet high and have a diameter of up to 7 feet.

A tree is either male or female. Male cones are known as pollen cones and female cones are known as seed cones. Pollination (the plant version of mating) occurs thanks to the wind transferring pollen to the seeds and that get naturally dispersed on the surrounding land. It takes 18 months for a cone to mature. It is not a good idea to stand under a monkey puzzle tree when it’s dropping cones because they are known to weigh up to 10 pounds! The seeds are referred to as piñones to the indigenous Pehuenche people of southern Chile and are one of their main food sources. They also use the trees as timber for boat structures, furniture and roofs; known as monkey puzzle wood.

Monkey puzzle trees were first introduced to Europe by Archibald Menzies. He was a British Navy surgeon and plant collector. In 1795, him and a few of his officers attended a dinner hosted by the governor of Chile and the dessert they were served had seeds on it from the monkey puzzle tree. Archibald saved some of the seeds and germinated them on his ship so by the time he got back to Britain, he had five monkey puzzle trees which were planted in the Royal Botanic Garden. This lead to the monkey puzzle tree becoming a huge phenomenon in the ornamental tree world and most seen today are juveniles.

While this tree is a hit in Europe and US, it’s sadly, declining in population in it’s natural habitat. Deforestation due to logging and burning to make room for more farm crops and cattle are the main reasons for population decline. Climate change is also affecting the trees because wildfires are becoming more and more intense and occurring with back to back frequency. Monkey puzzle trees are pretty resistant to fire considering they live close to volcanoes but sometimes the fires are just too hot to handle and they don’t stand a chance against fires deliberately set by humans. In 2014, Chile declared a national emergency because fires burned through acres of trees in 3 national parks. It sadly included small areas where this species is officially protected.

As far as conversation goes, most of the effort is targeting these forests as a whole versus one particular species. If you would like to learn more about the case study and what is being done, click here.

(Source: GlobalTrees, Owlcation, EdenProject)

California Condor

Today’s endangered species is one of the largest birds in the world; the California condor or Gymnogyps californianus. Gymnos is Greek for naked, because their heads are naked, gyps for vulture and californianus for their range which is California. However, 40,000 years ago, the California condor used to roam all over North America. By the way, condor comes from the Inca word cuntur which the Andean condors are named. Andean condors are California condor’s cousins and they are also critically endangered.

California condors are large. They are larger than a bald eagle. Body size is about 3.5 to 4.5 feet. Their wingspan is quite phenomenal. From wingtip to wingtip is a staggering 9 to 10 feet. Both male and female condors weigh in at about 18-31 pounds. You’d have to be quite strong to hold one of these beasties on your arm. When in flight, the California condor soars to dizzying heights of 15,000 feet where they glide. They can glide for hours without beating their wings and reach speed sup to 30-40 mph.

California condors are completely carnivorous. They’re actually scavengers which means they feast on the dead carcasses of large mammals like cattle, deer, pigs and even whales. They swallow the small bones of these animals in order to meet their calcium requirements. Like most vulture species, they are wary of humans so it’s pretty rare to see one snacking on roadkill. A lot of people believe they are able to smell death from far up above but they’re actually able to see way better than they can smell. They can consume as much as 5-7 percent of their body weight, sometimes more which allows them to go without eating for 2 to 3 days. At most, California condors can go a whole week without eating.

California condors usually nest in caves or natural cavities on cliffs and sometimes in trees such as the giant sequoias. Once a pair mates, they mate forever; they are very monogamous. The parents share nesting duties as well as bringing up offspring together. A condor pair only lays one egg at a time. It takes 2 months for it to hatch and then the young rely on their parents for a year or more after hatching. A California condor’s life span is about 60 years.

The number one cause of the California condor’s decline is humans and human activities. It all began when early Europeans settled in America (looking at you Columbus). They shot, poisoned, and generally disturbed the condors. They also vastly reduced their food supply of deer, elk and other large mammals. By 1985, the entire California condor population was reduced to just 27 individuals. It was decided to capture these individuals into captivity to try and save them from total extinction.

A controversial conservation breeding program was started in the 1980’s and today the population size is a little over 400 individuals (125 of them being wild; the rest in captivity). Lead poisoning continues to be the number one threat to the condor as well as habitat loss. It is completely illegal to kill a California condor and a bill was introduced in 2007 banning hunters from using lead based ammunition because the California condor feeds on some of the carcasses hunters bring down. It’s a very slow process, especially due to their reproduction rates and the oldest living condor has only made it to 40 years but slowly but surely, the numbers are rising.

Source: AllAboutBirds; WildlifeCA

 

Humans of…

Endangered Thursdays is normally dedicated to animals listed on the IUCN list all over the world to bring awareness to their plight. Today I’m switching it up and keeping it short.

As many people are aware, a huge hurricane named Harvey graced parts of Texas with its presence beginning last week. Houston in particular is now up to 50 inches of rain. That’s as tall, if not taller than the average human which means this city is underwater. Harvey has returned to land but this time in parts of Louisiana which is heartbreaking considering this is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, 12 years ago, that killed thousands of people.

At times like these, race, religion, gender, none of that matters. People from all walks of life are coming together to help their fellow man, woman, child and animal. From giant trucks that can drive through these floodwaters, to boat rescues, if an individual has it, they are using it to help. Homes and businesses that have not been flooded are opening their doors to take in as many people and pets as possible in order to ensure that people are not stuck out in this monstrous weather.

All over this country and all over the world people are donating from a little as a dollar to as much as a million dollars in order to help get hot meals, medical supplies and dry clothes to these people in their time of need.

What I want to point out today is that the people of Texas and Louisiana are not the only ones suffering at this moment. This hasn’t been televised as much as it should but the people of Southeast Asia are also being affected by catastrophic monsoons and landslides. Sierre Leone, in particular, suffered a massive landslide in their capital that killed thousands of people three weeks ago and it’s still going. This country has been asking for help from any country that can. Bangladesh, Nepal and large areas of India are also affected.

As the rain begins to wind down in Houston, we need to look towards our country’s allies and help them in their time of need as much as they have helped us in the past and continue to help us now. If you have a couple extra dollars to spare, consider donating to Unicef or Oxfam to help the victims of Southeast Asia. Even if it’s only a dollar, a little bit goes a long way.

Przewalski’s Horse

Today’s endangered animal looks hard to pronounce but it’s actually pretty simple. Przewalski is pronounced “shuh-VAL-skee”. Also known as the P-horse for short, or the Mongolian horse. Przewalski’s horse are the last true wild horses. All the “wild horses” you see in places like Australia and North American Great Plains are actually feral horses.The Mongolians refer to P-horses as “tahki” which means spirit. Spirits are generally worshiped so you don’t ride the P-horse, you don’t capture the P-horse and your certainly don’t kill the P-horse.

Przewalski’s horse looks like your average horse or even looks to be related to a donkey but their genetic makeup is quite a bit different. You see your average domestic horses have 64 chromosomes where the P-horse has 66 chromosomes. They are small and stocky compared to domestic horses ranging from 4.3 to 5 feet tall (1.3-1.5 meters) and weight about 550 to 800 pounds (250-360 kilograms). They are dun colored, which is a light gray tan with zebra like manes. Their bellies are paler than the rest of their body and they have dark lower legs.

Like zebra and donkeys, P-horse are monogastric herbivores. This means they have simple, single chambered stomachs. They digest through a process known as hind-gut fermentation and without going completely scientific on you, that basically means that their large intestine is where most of the fiber breakdown takes place where as humans, for example, the digestion takes place as soon as you put food in your mouth and by the time it reaches your intestines, it’s tiny particles. P-horses have a harem like social structure where you have the dominant, a harem of mares and and their offspring. Young stallions are not allowed to breed unless they can defeat the dominant so oftentimes you would see a group of young stallions together known as the “bachelor herd”. A P-horse life span is estimated to be about 36 years.

500,000 years ago, Przewalski’s horse roamed the continents of Europe and Asia. It is rumored that these horses have been around since the reign of Genghis Khan. The first recorded reference to this beautiful creature was in the year 900 by a Tibetan monk. After that, Genghis Khan recorded seeing them during his many conquests followed by a German writer in the 15th century who claimed to have seen one while he was in a Turkish prison. It wasn’t until 1878, when geographer and explorer Nikolai Przewalski was gifted a p-horse skull that they truly became discovered.

This was the beginning of an almost extinction. An animal exotic merchant got wind of this beastie and would hunt as man foals as possible. The problem became the hunters killing stallions while trying to take the foals which lead to the decrease in natural breeding. After World War II, the once thriving wild population was down to a staggering 32 individuals and by 1950 there were only 12 individuals left. Not only were hunters a problem but extremely harsh winters, agriculture and low genetic diversity was barreling this poor species straight into extinction.

Conservationists and zoologists, naturally, freaked. They began a studbook documenting the studs out of the 12 they were forced to capture who successfully brought offspring into the world. By 1965 the population rose to 134 individuals and by 1990 it was up to 1000 in captivity; a lot of it due to crossbreeding. It was decided that they would try to reintroduce the P-horse back into the wild.

Since the early 1990s, Przewalski’s horse has been upgraded from almost extinct to endangered. Population majority (the only wild herd) can be found in the steppes of Hustai National Park in Mongolia. Hunters are no longer a huge threat although there are still patrols of the protected areas. The largest threats to this species is animal hybridization. There are instances of the P-horse mating with domestic horses which dilutes the gene pool. There are also natural threats such as harsh winters, natural predation from wolf packs and disease. Conservationists are deeply researching reproduction habits and slowly keeping this animal from ever reaching almost extinction again.

(Source: Smithsonian1, Smithsonian2)

Amur Leopard

Not to be confused with the cheetah, today’s endangered tale is brought to you by the Amur Leopard. The name Amur comes form the Amur river which separates Far East Russia from Northeast China. The Amur leopard is also known as the Korean leopard or the Manchurian leopard depending on which region is referencing it. It is currently listed on the IUCN Endangered Species list as critically endangered.

Leopards are usually associated with high elevation environments or savannas of Africa. The Amur leopard is the long distant cousin of its family in Africa seeking temperate forests and harsh winters found in Russia’s Far East. Amurs have longer legs than their leopard cousin allowing them to run speeds up to 37 mph and can jump up to 10 feet in the air vertically. In the summer, the individual hairs on their pelts are 2 cm long but in the winter, they grow up to 7 cm long. Amurs are very solitary, nocturnal creatures. They’re really good hunters; mainly preying on roe deer, small wild boar, hares, badgers and raccoon dogs.

Amur leopards have a relativity short life span; about as long as your average domestic dog or cat. In the wild they live about 10-15 years. In captivity, they may live up to 20 years. They reach sexual maturity at three years of age and breed in spring or early summer. Litter sizes are between 1-4 cubs that are weaned off mom at three months and leave mom at a year and a half. Male amurs are sometimes known for sticking around and helping rearing the young after mating with a female.

I couldn’t pinpoint exact numbers on how many amur leopards there once were but their population has been dramatically reduced because 80% of their habitat range has been loss due to deforestation. There are fewer than 60 individuals left in existence making the Amur leopard the most endangered large cat in the world. As the forests are being cut down for logging purposes, not only does it affect the Amur leopard, it affects the prey that they eat because they become more scarce. Conflicts with humans are another huge cause for the decreases in population. Poachers illegally hunt the Amur leopard for it’s beautiful fur. A female pelt goes for $500 USD and a male pelt goes for $1000 USD on the black market. Lastly, inbreeding also plays a huge factor in depressed populations. Father-daughter and sibling mating have been observed which leads to problematic genetic mutations and lower fertility rates.

Conservationists are working hard to increase the Amur leopard population. Russia has declared forest areas federally protected and are working together with groups like the WWF to increase the prey population in the Amur leopard’s range. Efforts do pay off in some instances such as in 2007 where conservationists were able to convince the Russian government to reroute the construction of an oil pipeline away from the Amur leopard’s habitat.

If you would like to do you part in supporting conservationists, you can adopt an Amur Leopard here.

(Source: WWF-Panda)

Saola

Today’s endangered animal is quite the unicorn. Brace yourselves.

Saola (pronounced sow-la) are in the genus bovid family. Other bovids include bison, buffalo, antelopes and domestic cattle. The saola stand out because they have long curving horns and striking white marking patterns on their face. Saola are endemic to the deep, evergreen forests and Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. Saola means “spinning wheel posts” in the Lao language because their horns resemble the spinning wheels on posts that villagers used. They weigh about 175-220 pounds (80-100kg).

I usually tell you about the animal’s diet, behavior and reproduction cycles but for once, I won’t be able to do that. This animal is listed as critically endangered. That’s one step above extinction. The story behind this animal’s existence is quite an extraordinary one. You see, one day a team of the Vietnamese government and a group from WWF (World Wildlife Fund) went out to conduct a general biodiversity. This sometimes includes walking into the homes of hunters to see some of their prizes. One day, they stumbled upon an unusual pair of horns in the home of a local hunter. They were horns they had never seen before from any animal in all of Southeast Asia.

This lead to this huge discovery about a large mammal in Laos that was previously unknown. The scientists eventually found more horns and even the full skin of a saola and published their findings in the 1993 journal Nature. It was dubbed “one of the most spectacular discoveries of the 20th century”.

Related image

As cool as that sounds, its also quite sad. The saola have only been captured on film or print a handful of times. Nobody knows how many actually still exist because they live in such deep, dense forests and there are none in captivity. If there are any left, they are still in serious danger due is habitat loss from deforestation and hunting. Because they are so rare, they are often caught in snares meant for other wildlife but are then capitalized on once the hunter figures out its the rare saola.

So far efforts to save this unicorn are very limited because they are so rare. Areas of Laos are legally protected and groups such as WWF are working to expand those protected areas daily.

Great White Shark

Today’s endangered animal is not exactly endangered quite yet but deserves awareness. Now, I know most humans are instinctively afraid of these huge creatures but this species is very vulnerable and can tip over to the endangered side any day.

Let’s start with basic facts shall we?

Great white sharks roam the the cool coastal waters of Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa Taiwan and US States California and Florida. The size of great white shark is largely debated but scientists can agree that recorded lengths are anywhere between 16-20 feet long and weigh between 4,000-7000 pounds. Great White sharks have a whopping 300 teeth but they don’t actually chew they prey. They bite them and swallow them whole. Their bodies are torpedo shaped which enables them to switch from a slow swim to a a high speed burst when hunting.

The size of their prey ranges from small, bony fish, to tuna, seals, dolphins and sometimes whales. They’re also known to eat crustaceans from time to time. Great White sharks are ovovivparous which means their eggs are produced and hatched inside the shark and sometimes uterine cannibalism may occur. This isn’t completely concrete, however, because a shark mating hasn’t been officially documented. They are also warm-blooded as opposed to most other shark species that are cold-blooded. It is estimated that a Great White shark’s life span is about 30 years.

Great white sharks are naturally curious creatures. They will readily swim up to a boat hoping to scavenge their next meal. Unfortunately, this as well as a few other things are the reason their population is declining. This is a problem because Great white sharks are keystone species.

For starters, Great White sharks do not eat humans. The humans who have been bitten by a shark are because the shark can’t tell the difference between a sea lion and a human when it’s hungry. There are more car accidents in the world 1000 times over than shark attacks. Thanks to the movie Jaws, sharks have gotten a very bad rap. Overfishing and poaching are slowly but surely killing the population. Again, sharks are curious and they like to scavenge so oftentimes they’ll swim up to a fisherman’s boat hoping to catch a few tunas and get caught in the netting or flat out killed because of human fear. The poaching is largely in part due to human demand for shark jaw, teeth and fins. On the black market, a shark jaw can go for $20,000-$500,000 US dollars with the individual teeth being sold for $600-$800 US dollars.

Great White sharks are super important to our marine environment. Not only are they apex predators (top of the food chain) they are also keystone species. Great White sharks keep the ocean biodiversity in check because they prey on the sick and weak species of a population which in turn keeps those species from overpopulating and helps us humans to have healthy, non diseased fish on our plates.

Bottom line, we need these beasties. Conservation efforts have taken place. The Great White Shark is protected under law in Australia, South Africa, Namibia, California and Florida, and Israel with fisheries being completely banned from some of these waters. However, humans have their ways of avoiding or “misinterpreting” the law so it’s still a struggle. If you’ve read this and decided that Great White sharks aren’t so bad after all, consider adopting one here.

(Sources: WWF, IUCN)

Asian Elephant

Today’s endangered post is focusing on the Asian elephant. It is grouped as top 10 most endangered animals in the world. Their population ranges between 40,000 and 50,000 which may seem like a lot but in actuality is not enough. Before the 20th century, over 100,000 Asian elephants existed. Their numbers have been vastly cut down for reasons I will discuss in a bit.

 

The main two elephant types that people are aware of are the African elephant and the Asian elephant. There are actually 4 more sub species in the elephant family: Borneo Pygmy elephant, Sri Lankan elephant, Sumatran elephant, and Indian elephant. And before you ask, yes, all 4 of these subspecies are listed as endangered as well with the Sumatran elephant being critically endangered.

The Asian elephant finds habitat in the forests of India to Thailand and southern Asia. Their scientific name is Elephas maximus (saying that out loud is so cool! Do it, you know you want to). And adult Asian elephant weighs about 11,000 lbs (about 5000 kgs) and can grow up to 22 feet in length and 6-11 feet high. The Asian elephant is smaller than their African cousins. They have smaller ears and smaller tusks. They are very intelligent creatures. It is believed that they are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. They are also very sociable. Groups of six to eight females herd together led by a matriarch. The Asian elephant also plays a prominent role in Hindu mythology. Lord Ganesha, also known as The Remover of Obstacles, was presented as an elephant head and is honored as a powerful deity in all sacred rituals.

The four main causes for the Asian elephant decline are:

  • Habitat loss
  • Illegal wildlife trade
  • Genetics
  • Capture of wild elephants

The forests these elephants inhabit are consistently being destroyed by humans due to infrastructure development. Elephants in general, have very long migratory routes. When railways and towns are built along their routes, they’re forced to come in closer contact with humans to travel as well as for food. Poaching of elephant tusks for ivory, meat and skin are the main contenders in the illegal wildlife trade. Because many of the male Asian elephants are being killed the most, it makes it hard to keep the gene pool from interbreeding. And last but not least, humans like to capture wild elephants for domestic use such as circuses and tourist attractions.

Since essentially all elephant species are some form of endangered, great efforts are being made to protect the wild herds. Organizations have set up patrols in certain areas to find and disable elephant snares and traps as well as apprehending poachers and putting them in jail. Communities are also coming together to make everyone more aware of the elephants plight as well as helping to rebuild the forests. More and more forests and other natural areas are being protected under law. Circuses such as the Ringling Bros. will no longer feature elephants in their shows and countries like China are completely ending the domestic ivory trade by banning imports and exports.

If  you are interested in donating to help the cause of elephant survival, check out WWF’s adopt an elephant program here.