The African continent is faced with high elephant poaching, hence the need to address the severity of this trend.
Today’s special edition dwells much on ways used to help suppress elephants poaching and raise awareness on the role these animals have in preserving the ecosystems they live in.
Poaching is the illegal hunting or capturing of wild animals, usually associated with land use rights for their skins, horns, tasks etc. This degrades the land, as it is deprived of these species and their extinction subsequently follows.
Importance of elephants in an ecosystem
The scientific names Loxodonta Africana and Loxodonta Cyclotis refer to the African elephant, respectively the savannah one and the forest one, and Elephas Maximus Maximus refers to the Asian elephant. Elephants are regarded as the largest mammal on land.
From ancient times elephants are known as water trackers in the wild. Elephants are able to track water for long distances, which they subsequently dig up, providing new water sources for them and for the rest of the animals in the wild.
Elephants are known as excellent seed dispersal agents. Seed dispersal is achieved through defecating in areas they may migrate to, so it often covers very wide territories.
Elephant dung is a great deal when it is used as manure, since elephants are known to eat tree leaves, barks, roots and grass. Therefore, a combination of all these is healthy and essential for plant growth.
Elephants are said to create channels in the wild, as they break down trees to pave way for the little ones, hence they can open an easy track even through thick vegetation.
Main threats to elephants
As gigantic as elephants are, they still succumb to threat. Besides falling prey from other animals like crocodiles or lions; humans pose a serious threat to the survival of elephants.
Poaching or illegal hunting occurs quite frequently in Africa; whereby elephants are killed and the tasks are harvested for sale at the black markets. Syndicate organized groups both locally and internationally work together in the capture of elephants.
Ways to mitigate elephant poaching
Elephants have elongated incisors, such that a third of the tusk is entrenched deep in the elephant’s head. The visible part known as ivory is made of dentine. Ivory is used for various ornaments; such as necklaces and bracelets.
Tusks possess unique prints that identify each elephant, hence, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analyses, when carried out, is able to track area where the elephant tusk was harvested. Collectively, with carbon dating and forensic science, elephant poachers can be tracked and arrested. In so doing, the trafficking of ivory could be stifled in many parts of Africa.
In conclusion, elephant poaching must be a punishable offense. Preservation of both wildlife and plants must be made a priority in many countries, so that future generations also have access to these animals and to a flourishing ecosystem.