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Director's Corner

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 This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

‘E’ is for Elephant, Not Extinction

dog team
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. 

Three teams of dogs and handlers are at work and Zambia is already seeing results! (Related: We have detector dogs in the United States |  Read about detection dogs in Kenya.) 

Asian elephant
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.”

Local and foreign governments must also work to suspend "Trophy hunting." Some of them claim that the money they pay goes for conservation work, which is highly questionable.
# Posted By A de Silva | 8/17/15 4:39 PM

We also teach our kids 'L' for Lion and not 'Lost forever'

Please list Big Cats (all of them) under endangered species.

Do it for the sake of our kids. Please let's leave this world the same or better way we came in.

- Malavika
# Posted By Malavika Ruprell | 8/22/15 11:58 AM

The number decreased by poachers and trophy hunters. You must stop both of them. Do not be bribed and lobbied by the hunters groups. It is a shame of USA. Shame on you.
# Posted By Sad | 9/19/15 2:44 PM

This is exactly what we need to be hearing from you and now we need to see you walk your talk.
# Posted By Prairie Moser | 9/19/15 2:56 PM

so many animals are endangered, elephants, rhinos, wild dogs, wolves polar bears. pangolins, lions etc one could go on with a very long list all need protection from poaching and hunting otherwise there will be nothing left within the next 10years for our children to see in the wild. Time for a rethink if we are to save all the species who are fast approaching extermination.
# Posted By S. H. | 9/19/15 4:03 PM

What is concerning is that whilst Dan Ashe is talking about Elephant extinction he forgets to mention that he is a trophy hunter killing animals for fun. Dan Ashe advocates killing of the elephants and rhinos by trophy hunters and yet has the audacity to talk of poaching? Is this not hypocrisy? Why do you Dan Ashe not ban trophy hunting for good Dan Ashe, you are equally contributing to the extinction of the Elephants, do something worthwhile and stop trophy hunting for good.
# Posted By Lev B | 9/19/15 4:40 PM

You are destroying your country, MORALLY and INTELECTLY
# Posted By | 9/19/15 6:24 PM

Ban all Trophy Hunting of game in the United States, ban all imports of any animal parts, or "Trophies", from outside the United states, ban the sale of any animal parts within the United States, and raise the offense level for any crime involving Trophy Hunting, animal parts trade and collection, and any form of deliberate animal abuse to the level of a Class One Felony, punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in solitary confinement and a $500,000 fine.
Dan Ashe Supports and Engages In "Trophy Hunting" and Should Be Fired, today.
# Posted By | 9/20/15 5:46 AM

There must be consistency from the USFWS? If you are to continue to grant permits for Killing endangered animals (Black rhino) Refuse to do an independent Lion count and list them as endangered. Approve Florida's bear hunt, with no Bear counts. Approve trophy hunting for all of these animals...how can you ever come out with a statement like this? The USFWS are a part of the problem and not the solution
# Posted By | 9/20/15 12:28 PM

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