Saturday, 12th August 2023, is World Elephant Day, a day for highlighting the importance of caring for and protecting the world's largest land mammal.
Despite being held in such high regard, this inquisitive and intelligent mammal's future is vulnerable, with all three species (Asian, African and African forest elephant) now classed as endangered or critically endangered.
All species of elephant suffer from similar threats, namely a combination of the following:
• Habitat loss due to deforestation and human encroachment.
• Human and elephant conflict - persecuted as they encounter humans when passing through their fragmented habitats, crossing roads and railroads, and entering villages and farms.
• Poaching - mainly for their ivory but also various other body parts used in traditional medicines or as trinkets.
All of these threats have caused their wild habitats to become unsafe, resulting in their decline. African elephants now occupy only 50% of their former range, whilst Asian elephants now only reside in 15% of areas where they once roamed.
We are one of many zoos that have committed to safeguarding this species, working alongside many other zoos and safari parks worldwide to provide the highest standards of care. Established in 2018, Project Elephant is our multi-faceted approach to the care of this enigmatic animal.
This World Elephant Day we're focusing on collaboration, one of many elements of our elephant care strategy. We work with various stakeholders in conservation, research, education, animal welfare and management to strive towards optimum levels of care and a future where elephants thrive. This was highlighted recently when we welcomed Alan Littlehales from Chester Zoo to share his knowledge on the care of elephants' feet with the team.
Weighing up to 5 tonnes, our herd spend a lot of time on these huge limbs, and despite Project Elephant Basecamp being one of the largest in the UK with multiple choices of substrate, terrain and topography, our elephants still occasionally require the odd pedicure. Alan has been specialising in this area of care for over 25 years, and as a result of the close working relationships between zoos, he was able to pass on this knowledge by undertaking some practical sessions with our keepers.
Humans are often the cause of the decline of species, but we can also be the cure. Join us down at Project Elephant to learn more about this species and what you can do to help support a future where elephants thrive