Helping the elephants
October 8, 2006 12:04 PM   Subscribe

What are the most useful and effective things a person can do to assist elephant conservation?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
At least when it comes to African elephants there is no problem right now. They are suffering from a population explosion and most of the nations of sub-Saharan Africa have been routinely culling the herds in the last few years because of it.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:09 PM on October 8, 2006


Am I the only one who read this as "Elephant conversation"?
posted by Not in my backyard at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2006 [6 favorites]


"Conservation" includes routine culling of overpopulated herds and is an ongoing process.
posted by mediareport at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2006


Habitat preservation. The problem with elephant populations is that there isn't enough land for them to survive on. The more land you have set aside for them, the more elephants you can have. Saving the elephant is meaningless otherwise.

This is true of virtually every species.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2006


Give to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.
posted by pracowity at 12:33 PM on October 8, 2006


Elephants are essentially large grey locusts, and their population needs to be controlled carefully. If I were a farmer in sub-saharan Africa, I would kill the voracious bastards on sight.

To protect elephants from people like me, you might want to investigate the Elephants Hate Chili campaign.
posted by tkolar at 12:48 PM on October 8, 2006


you should totally read Jeffrey Masson, tha author of the great book When ELEPHANTS Weep, his website's good too
posted by matteo at 1:17 PM on October 8, 2006


Thank you matteo. I've actually met Jeffrey. He lives in my area these days. And I have the book.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:20 PM on October 8, 2006


Ah, crud. I also read it as "elephant conversation". Three times. Damn. And I flagged it as breaking the guidelines, too.

Matt and Jessamyn, just ignore me, if you don't already. My apologies.
posted by QIbHom at 1:45 PM on October 8, 2006


I did, too. So, whichever is your goal, you could hook up with these people. ;-)
posted by salvia at 2:42 PM on October 8, 2006


I've heard good things about The Elephant Sanctuary.
posted by invisible ink at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2006


Ordinarily I don't turn to ads for information but in this case I'm guessing that some worthwile funds have probably bought the keyword "elephants" on Google. Check the right column. There's a retarded eBay ad there as well, but it looks like there are also a few more options to explore.
posted by scarabic at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2006


The problem with elephant populations is that there isn't enough land for them to survive on. The more land you have set aside for them, the more elephants you can have.

Good point - does anyone know how it can be achieved?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:13 AM on October 9, 2006


The problem with elephant populations is that there isn't enough land for them to survive on.

Good point - does anyone know how it can be achieved?

Yes. This is guaranteed to work. 100 percent.

Release a herd of elephants into the United States with strict instructions that they cannot be hurt or killed or captured. Give them federal protection, with a group of soldiers to track them and make sure the elephants can go forth unimpeded.

The massive problems they would cause (traffic jams and accidents, destroyed crops, destroyed homes, lost incomes, tusk-impaled gawkers, angry mobs, etc.) would lead to significantly deeper understanding of the problem and create solutions that could be applied elsewhere. Tracking methods. Repellants. Fencing. Moats. Birth control. Frustration. Apathy. Culling...

If I were King of America, I would give them a national park. A large one. How many elephants could all of western Kansas (about 40,000 square miles) support if you kicked out the people, put a moat and fence around the whole thing, and let everything grow?
posted by pracowity at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2006


You asked a question that has much been on my mind as well. Given their proclivity towards what appears to be a complex language system and the deep emotional bonds they form, describing elephants as grey locusts seems .. ridiculous.

Because they require significant amounts of vegation, elephant need a dedicated area. As pracowity said, they are big and they are pretty invunerable so containing them is a problem. But a big problem with their current game reserve space is the lack of water. Until recently, in Zimbabwe the government was pumping water out of the ground creating artificial water holes. This and other irrigation programs was very helpful to their success. The government has run out of money and out of fuel. Key contributions to NGOs would probably help get the program up and running again.

Culling is not an effective way to manage elephant populations because it causes long term societial damage - young elephants left without caregivers behave like teenagers from a clockwork orange - they kill rhinos and other animals in a spiteful way and generally behave very antisocially. Elephants can clearly communicate abstract concepts because elephants who have never been part of a culling program behave with terror at the sight of a helicopter. Culling is cruel and a crude population mechanism for such intelligent animals.

However as has been hinted up thread, it is hard to justify letting humans starve and subsidizing elephants or granting elephants better land as humans and elephants compete for scarce resources in Africa. As for me, I give my money and hope that there are people who care about the people as much as I care about elephants.

To learn more try these links:
http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/afesg/
http://www.awf.org/wildlives/elephant.php
http://www.elephanttrust.org/
posted by zia at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2006


*population control mechanism
posted by zia at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2006


zia wrote...
Given their proclivity towards what appears to be a complex language system and the deep emotional bonds they form, describing elephants as grey locusts seems .. ridiculous.

Sorry, just got back from Botswana. Apparently I went native while I was there.
posted by tkolar at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2006


The Economist had a sensible idea a while ago: allow individuals to own elephants, and lift the embargo on the ivory trade.

Hey, presto! Elephants have suddenly changed from a massive problem to a valuable resource!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:37 AM on October 10, 2006


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