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By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Oh dear, elephants again! Somewhere in my back pages on the Dead Good Blog is one about When Elephants Strolled The Sands, featuring Blackpool Tower Circus elephants taking an early morning turn on the beach (tide permitting). I think I'm suffering from theme fatigue - the old pachyderm is wearing a bit thin. However, the blog must go on - and actually there is a very important message to be got across, because in reality, elephant populations are declining fast! The animal is flashing red on the UN/WWF endangered list.
When I was growing up in deepest, darkest Africa (though south-western Nigeria was never that deep nor truly that dark), the nearest town to our little savannah village was Ilorin, which in Yoruba (local language) means Town Of The Elephants... and it is true, they were a reasonably common sight in my childhood, observed from a distance in the bush (for they are known as Bush Elephants) and treated with utmost respect. I'm sure my Dad had photographs of them - if only I could track those images down.
Half a century later, Nigeria is one of the continent's fast-rising and most populous countries and the elephants have pretty much retreated to the confines of Omo forest. Some estimates suggest there are merely a few hundred left in the country - an endangered species struggling to survive man's dubious march of progress.
Elsewhere on the continent, in East and South Africa, this large-eared branch of the elephant family fares a little better. There are thought to be some 400,000 wild elephants in total in Africa, though that's half the number there were even thirty years ago. Loss of habitat and poaching are the biggest threats - for illegal hunting for ivory claims the lives of 55 elephants a day! That's 20.000 a year! Elephants have the longest gestation of any mammal, approximately 630 days or 21 months.  I don't know how many calves are born each year but the numbers all look to be heading rapidly in the wrong direction.


a different take on bush elephants!

On the Indian sub-continent, the smaller-eared Asian elephant (sometimes called Indian) is possibly less at risk, partly because it is culturally more integrated into human life as a work animal, beast of burden, religious icon. However, there is a much smaller population of these creatures to begin with, maybe 35,000, spread across India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and Indonesia. Loss of habitat is the biggest threat to these magnificent creatures.


a dancing Indian elephant

In just over a week's time, on August 12th, it will be World Elephant Day, an annual event that seeks to raise the profile of the plight of the poor pachyderm - not as thick-skinned as it looks.
I'm taking my cue from fellow blogger Pam Winning this week and reproducing a comic poem about elephants, this one written by Adrian Mitchell for his children:
The elephant knocked the ground with a stick,
He knocked it slow, he knocked it quick.
He knocked it till his trunk turned black -
Then the ground turned round and knocked him back.
Thanks for reading. Never forget, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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