A herd of elephants with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background.

A herd of elephants with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background.

Recently I read a story about six tons of illegal ivory that was crushed in Denver in order to send a message about the terrible decimation of the African elephant population:http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/15/ivory-crushed-denver/3563633/ Last year 32,000 elephants were killed as a result of poaching. At that rate, in ten years the African elephant will become extinct. There are around 300,000 elephants in Africa, so you can do the math. The Asian elephant numbers around 50,000.

The extinction of the African elephant is a real possibility. This was something I thought impossible until I read this article, but the dramatic increase in poaching over the last several years has already decimated the population. It is a true tragedy. And the great demand for ivory is found primarily in two areas of the world: China and south east Asia; and here in the U.S.

A calf and its dead mother...a sad sight.

A calf and its dead mother…a sad sight.

Elephants are magnificent creatures: highly intelligent, with complex social groups, endowed with the ability to communicate through some kind of language, their survival depends on the continuity of their own societies. Elephants, like us, transmit knowledge from one generation to the next, and like us they do so in a social way. The baby elephant learns much from its mother, and when she is killed, or the elder elephants in the herd are killed, then vital knowledge is lost for survival. Elephants are said to be perhaps the only other creature, or one of the few creatures in the world, who, like us, have a sense of their own mortality. Whenever elephants come across the bones of other elephants, they always examine and inspect the bones with great curiosity, as if they know something about death, and that they have come across a dead member of their own kind. They recognize the bones as being that of an elephant. This requires great intelligence and sensitivity, and most other animals lack this capacity.

Magnificent creatures...

Magnificent creatures…

Man has tremendous power in this world. We can both create, preserve and destroy. Let us stop destroying nature and our environment, and the great creatures who dwell therein, such as the elephant. Once gone, they will be lost forever. Simply keeping a few alive here and there in zoos can never replace what is lost in nature. I don’t think God created all these things so we could simply destroy them