Amazing Elephants

World Elephant Day

by Khadijah Rahim

August 12, 2021 was World Elephant Day! Ranking as the largest land mammals, elephants can weigh between 4-6 tons standing at 18-24 feet! Yet despite their huge size, there’s an estimated 40,000 – 50,000 left in the world with an estimated 20,00 in captivity. It’s estimated by 2040 elephants may be extinct and only a distant memory for some. 

Led by a matriarch, elephants are organized into complex social structures of females and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation or in small bachelor groups. A single calf is born to a female once every four to five years and after a gestation period of 22 months – the longest of any mammal! Calves are cared for by the entire herd of related females. Female calves may stay with their maternal herd for the rest of their lives, while males leave the herd as soon as they reach puberty. 

The greatest threat to African elephants is poaching for the illegal ivory trade, while Asian elephant populations are most at risk from habitat loss and resulting human conflict. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks and each individual can either be left- or right-tusked! The one they use more is usually smaller due to wear and tear. Elephant tusks serve many purposes. They serve as extended teeth that can be used to protect the elephant’s trunk, lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. They can also be used for defense. During times of drought, elephants even use their tusks to dig holes to find water deep underground!

Due to poaching, elephant numbers have declined by 30% between 2007-2014. This dramatic decline has continued and even increased with a loss of up to 90% in some landscapes between 2011 and 2015. Elephants are also losing their habitats and ancient migratory routes due to expanding human settlements into their habitat, agricultural development, and the construction of man made things such as roads, canals, and fences that infringe on their habitat.

While the struggle in wildlife continues, there’s at least 20,000 elephants in captivity. Captive elephants are transported around in small trailers and boxcars for the travelling circus, confined in small enclosures in zoos, or used as objects in promotions and marketing. Many of them have been “tamed” through the use of unbelievable brutality, and kept under life-long human control with continued abuse.

While you may think you can’t help, you can! Take Instant Action to help elephants!

(1) Buy elephant friendly items! Some coffee products are grown in plantations that destroy elephant habitats. Buy certified coffee made in areas that don’t destroy the homes of elephants!

(2) Support conservation efforts and boycott the circus! While they can be fun and are a part of childhood memories, they are extremely detrimental to an elephant’s life, giving them a life in captivity, abuse, and suffering. (

3) Continue to educate yourself so you can spread awareness and keep the elephant population thriving!