Aside from the obvious (that they're adorable and sweet and massive and mysterious), you may wonder why we're so concerned about saving the elephant population. We understand that there are countless other causes that need support and we plan on getting to a large number of them in the years to come; however, we are focused on elephants for the time being after getting the opportunity to interact with them and hearing some eye-opening, little-known facts. We also know that elephant interactions have had a positive impact on the travels and emotions of many members of our Active Roots community, and we wanted to support a cause that directly related to that community.
Elephants are widely recognized as a symbol of strength and power. Their size, longevity, stamina, intelligence, cooperative spirit, and loyalty make them an exemplary species, resulting in many cultures adopting a strong sense of respect for them.
In Laos, the elephant is the national animal, symbolizing prosperity and strength of the nation. Losing this species represents a cultural loss for the people of Laos. Elephants are considered sacred for Lao people and the Buddhist community, and losing them directly impacts these beliefs.
Elephants play an integral role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live. In the dry season, elephants use their tusks to dig water, which provides water for other animals that share the harsh habitats.
Forest elephants create gaps in the vegetation when they eat, allowing new plants to grow and creating pathways for other small animals to use. They also play a major role in helping trees disperse their seeds.
Elephants found in the savannahs feed on tree sprouts and shrubs to help keep the plains open and support the game found in that ecosystem. The elephant waste deposits seeds that allows for the growth of new grasses, bushes and trees.
Elephants bring in much needed money for developing countries all over the world. One study estimates that the tourism value of a single elephant throughout its lifetime is $1.6 million USD. This revenue allows these communities to improve their homes, expand their businesses and improve schools and opportunities for children. It also provides work for community members who are involved in saving orphaned and endangered elephants, rehabilitating them, and on occasion returning them to the wild.
There are various factors playing into the decline of the elephant species. These include but are not limited to:
If we don't address this serious issue now, the entire elephant population will be extinct before we know it. For this reason, we feel that it is crucial to support ethical organizations attempting to save, rehabilitate, and grow the endangered elephant species, such as the Elephant Conservation Center.