Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.
|Dog Ruger and some of the team. Photo by Michelle Gadd/USFWS|
As our children learn to read, we teach them that “E is for elephant.”
It’s hard to believe that one of the world’s most well-known and beloved animals, a staple of children’s alphabet books and stories, is fighting for its very existence. But these magnificent creatures are, and there is no better time than today – World Elephant Day – to remember African and Asian elephants and continue our hard work to help both of these species that are threatened with extinction.
In Africa, poaching for ivory poses the biggest threat to elephants. We lost 95 percent of elephants there during the 20th century, and now we risk losing the remaining 5 percent. The thriving illegal trade in ivory makes every elephant a target for ruthless, well-armed criminal organizations that are driven by greed.
We have raised awareness here at home about the plight of the elephants with our two Ivory Crushes. We also support on-the-ground conservation in countries across Africa through our African Elephant Conservation Fund, including efforts with the South Luangwa Conservation Society to launch a wildlife detector dog program in Zambia.
|Asian elephant. Photo by T.V. Kumara/EFECT|
In Asia, elephants have already dwindled to very small numbers (with only from 20,000 to 40,000 left in the wild) and continue to be threatened by loss of habitat, human-elephant conflict and poaching. In 2014, our Asian Elephant Conservation Fund awarded 26 grants to help elephants. One of them went to Elephant Forest and Environment Conservation Trust, which is conducting one of the few long-term studies of Asian elephant population dynamics, in Sri Lanka. The research will help ensure continued survival of Asian elephants in the wild.
Both African and Asian elephants need your help.
We must continue to be vigilant in combating illegal ivory trade. You can help by not buying items that contain elephant ivory and by spreading this message to your family and friends.
The Save Vanishing Species Stamp, available at the Post Office, also generates funds to support elephant, tiger, rhino, great ape and marine turtle conservation. To date, 61 projects in 31 countries have received more than $2.5 million from stamp sales, matched with more than $10.5 million from partner organizations. Find more information about the tiger stamp at: www.tigerstamp.com.
Let’s make sure we can continue to teach our children that “E is for elephant” instead of “E is for extinction.”