Time is Running Out for the African Elephant

elephants2      At the rate that African elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered, they will become extinct within our lifetimes. Within a decade. The facts are chilling: Every 15 minutes, an elephant in Africa loses its life to poachers, at the rate of 96 a day, up to 50,000 a year.

These sophisticated, well-funded, well-organized and ruthless bands of poachers kill the elephants for their tusks, which bring big money on the illicit ivory market. Rhinos are killed for their horns, which are mistakenly believed to have medicinal uses. These criminals only care about the immediate reward of making as much money as they can right now. They don't care about the permanent disappearance of an entire species from the planet.

Thirty percent of Africa's elephants have been wiped out in the last seven years. But because statistics make people's eyes glaze over, I won't go on, just consider this:  Unless something changes very soon, our children's children will read about elephants and rhinos in history books. This isn't some theoretical, speculative possibility way off in the future, folks. This is real.

If you, like me, are among the millions who find it unacceptable, read on.

On September 24, more than 130 cities around the world will participate in the  Global March for Elephants and Rhinos  (#MarchAgainstExtinction) to demand an end to the illegal wildlife trade, not only for elephants and rhinos but lions and other threatened species. It is planned to coincide with the  meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg, with the aim of pressuring CITES delegates to vote for the strictest possible protections for these and other endangered species.

There is a Chicago March for Elephants taking place at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 18, at Daley Plaza. The demonstration will proceed from Daley to the China and South Africa consulates. (China is reportedly the world's largest consumer of ivory.)

The Facebook page for the Chicago march is here.

It seems that whenever something involving dogs is going on - Bark in the Park and other fundraisers for PAWS or Anti-Cruelty or ACC - turnout is big and media attention abounds. But when it comes to elephants and other wildlife, not so much. Dogs aren't in danger of disappearing from the Earth in the next quarter-century. Elephants are.

Not to dismiss the importance of companion animal causes. But it would be nice to see the love spread around a little bit. Elephants are among the most intelligent and loving mammals on Earth. Just look at the photo at the top of this post. I for one don't want to lose an animal that does this. In the time it's taken me to write this post, at least six elephants have been butchered.

You may feel like, as one little person you can't make a difference. But remember, all it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.

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