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The majority of elephant threats are due to human action. This includes the loss of natural habitat, illegal poaching due to the ivory trade and the increasing needs of a growing human population. There is also the threat of capturing elephants for the use of entertainment, such as circuses, elephant-back safaris, and more.
Elephants are complex animals that form social bonds, live long lives and are incredibly intelligent.
Status of Feature Species:
Some of the largest numbers in the loss of elephants is due to the illegal killing of elephants for ivory. The ivory market is on the rise as the demand for luxury products in China increases. The killing of elephants destroys families and skews the gender ratios, especially in Asia where males primarily grow tusks.
As the human population grows, the demand for timber and other resources increases. This causes depletion in forests and natural habitats of elephants and other animals. Climate change is also a factor in declining elephant numbers, as they become sensitive to rising temperatures. Other impacts include invasive species outcompeting food sources and susceptibility to disease.
Traditionally, these elephants were captured for use in warfare and ceremonies. Today, the animals may be captured for use in tourism and entertainment, including elephant ride safaris, zoos and circuses. In order to train or “break” elephants, these animals see horrible abuse which continues throughout their lives.
Elephant rides include the use of extremely heavy saddles for hours upon hours. They live a life in chains, away from their families, under terrible circumstances. Often an elephant is abused by the use of a bullhook, which damages them physically and emotionally.
An elephant in a zoo suffers greatly as they are psychologically, emotionally and physically damaged due to lack of proper space and company of their families.
Elephants in circuses experience an immensely difficult life. A circus elephant is chained for hours on end in small spaces and then receives physical abuse and is forced to perform unnatural acts in physically difficult positions. The circus life also includes travelling from city to city in confined spaces, chained and in extreme heat or cold. These elephants are separated from their mothers at an early age in order to be brutally trained.
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