African elephants could face extinction by 2025, researchers warn. Since 1980, the number of elephants in the wild has plummeted by 76 percent due to poaching. Experts warn that the rate at which elephants are being killed is higher than the rate at which they reproduce.
During 2013 alone, the number of elephants slaughtered by poachers was an astounding 35,000, reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Rhinos, too, are in danger, and being killed at an alarming rate. More than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year for their horns, which are carved into decorative items or used medicinally in some parts of the world. At that rate, which is 50% higher than the prior year, rhinos are also in danger of being wiped out within the next 20 years.
A collaboration has been set up, known as the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action. The three-year, $80 million action brings together NGOs, governments, and concerned citizens. The collaboration is working to stop the slaughter of Africa’s elephants, and to stop the demand and trafficking of ivory. Ivory is used in the making of jewelry, ornaments, chopsticks and gift items.
Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said: “The more people are aware of the consequences of what they buy, it changes what they do. We need to do the same with elephant ivory and rhino horn and tiger bone. What person would buy these things if they knew they slaughtered the most magnificent animals in the world? Because when people buy parts of these animals, they are contributing to the catastrophic killing taking place right now.”
Demand has caused the price of ivory to skyrocket, which drives the illegal poaching. Not only are elephants and rhinos in danger of being killed, but also the people who try to protect them: at least 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past ten years.
In 2013, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) created the first International March for Elephants. This year, on October 4, the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will take place on World Animal Day, which is also the anniversary of the first International March for Elephants. On Saturday, October 4, 2014, cities around the world will march to bring attention to the plight of elephants and rhinos.
The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will be held in cities such as Washington, D.C. and Eumundi, Queensland, Australia. The Eumundi event says on their Facebook page “PLEASE ADD YOURSELF and say "GOING" only if you plan to GO, otherwise, join us in SOLIDARITY and SPIRIT by saying "MAYBE." Click here to participate or for more information.
For a list of other participating cities, go to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Facebook page, and click on their cover banner. Find out more at their website: www.march4elephantsandrhinos.org.