Ever since I was little, I have loved elephants. And I think everyone should love elephants.
Elephants are some of the most majestic creatures to ever walk the earth. They are incredibly beautiful to behold. The sheer power in their size juxtaposed against the soft understanding in their eyes is a harmony that seems too perfect even for nature.
They are more intelligent than most people fully realize. They can feel pain and grief and not only do they go through great lengths to keep their female-led packs together and protect their babies, they also mourn for the fallen members of their packs.
In a more practical sense, elephants are also keystone species that help protect the diversity and wellness of the ecosystems they occupy.
There is a reason they have been used for centuries as a symbol for overcoming life’s greatest obstacles. People find a sort of peace in a creature so much like us in mind and yet so different.
Unfortunately, not everyone respects the power of elephants nor sees their beauty and worth. They are being poached at devastating rates for the valuable ivory in their trunks. They are also illegally hunted as exotic big game. When you get beyond the killing, they have been recruited for circuses and other shows where they are abused and neglected in order to turn a profit.
Because of my love for these animals and the dangerous lows their numbers are falling into, I think saving them should be a top priority, but it can feel overwhelming to take on protecting an entire species. Here are small ways people like you and me can help elephants:
1. Adopt an Elephant
As with most causes, the easiest and often most effective way to help tackle a large problem is to help fund the sort of large-scale projects with the infrastructure to make the biggest impact. One of my favorite ways I’ve come across to do this is both through regular donations and through “adopting” an animal.
World Wildlife Fund (who I have to thank for the cute panda on my debit card) offers symbolic African elephant adoptions. You can donate your money directly for the most impact and receive a certificate or you can opt for a bigger package, which includes an elephant plush, adoption certificate and some other goodies.
2. Buy Cute Merchandise from Charity-Based Brands
Not everyone wants to just shell out money in donations and that’s completely fair. Our money is valuable and has to be used to buy both necessities and leisure items and donating to animal rights groups where the money isn’t always trackable can seem like a poor financial decision. A good compromise is to buy cute clothing or accessories from charity-based brands that donate a portion of their profits to assist your cause.
I like to buy from a brand called Ivory Ella. They make adorable clothes and accessories with elephants on them, and they release new designs all the time; I have the best long-sleeve t-shirt with an elephant wearing a Frosty outfit. Ten percent of their profits goes to Save the Elephants to raise awareness about and prevent ivory poaching.
3. Avoid Ivory
The primary reason elephants are killed is for the ivory located in their tusks. Poaching is severely depleting the elephant population, and therefore as beautiful as ivory happens to be, it is not worth the life of an elephant. Do not purchase any items with ivory! Buying the items create demand and demand is what drives poachers to kill. Make sure to look for it especially in jewelry, as older ivory may still be legal to be sold.
4. Educate Yourself and then Spread the Word!
These are just a few ways that you can help the elephants and an extremely rough overview of why elephants matter. Elephants contribute much more to the environment than most people think, and ivory isn’t the only thing hurting them; loss of territory and an obsession with having them for observation or to learn tricks can tear them from their native homes.
If this article pulled at your heartstrings, share it with your friends with your own personal reasons for caring about elephants, and then keep reading. World Elephant Day is about education and awareness through talking about the issues, and declaring your support for elephants on social media may seem small, but it’s a great way to start!