These, together with the enactment of the Jane Goodall Act in Canada, are just a few examples of global efforts to recognise the dignity and reverse the systemic exploitation of these highly cognitive creatures.
However, nearly one in three Asian elephants lives in captivity; the existence of such a large captive population of an endangered and intelligent animal continues to pose several practical and ethical challenges.
“An avalanche of data and analysis that provides cast iron proof that we have failed to deliver a life worth living for elephants in zoos”, said Will Travers OBE, the co-founder and executive president of the Born Free Foundation who published a new Report called Elephants in Zoos: A Legacy of Shame on the 4th of May 2022.
On the 11th of July 2022, the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation published a Report on the unique needs of elephants concluding that these complex animals cannot live meaningful lives in captivity.
On World Elephant Day, the undersigned Members of the Pro Elephant Network call on governments around the world to release elephants, the largest sentient, intelligent and socially complex land animal from captivity wherever possible. Not only would this improve the quality of life for each elephant, but it would also improve the ecosystem services provided by the habitat into which they are released. Elephants have been described as super-keystone species and mega-gardeners of the forest and savannah. Research has revealed that the loss of elephants in African forests leads to a seven per cent drop in carbon sequestration and storage. In the fight against dangerous climate change, elephants are our allies; in captivity, they are essentially unemployed, living lives of social and sensory deprivation. In the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, putting the elephant back into elephant-depleted ecosystems will bring benefits to the elephants, the biodiversity and the planet.
The World Elephant Day 2022 Statement is signed by the following Members of the Pro Elephant Network.
Stefania Falcon Pro Elephant Network Co-ordinator
Owais Awan Advocate High Court, Islamabad
Suparna Baksi-Ganguly President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore, India
Dr Brett Bard Veterinarian, South Africa
Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo Postdoctoral Researcher, the Conservation Criminology Lab, Dep of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Janey Clegg Committee Member, SPCA Mutare, Zimbabwe
Professor David Bilchitz Director, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights and International Law – South Africa
Megan Carr Founder, Rhinos in Africa
Lenin Chisaira Founder, Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe
Dr Betsy Coville Exotic / Wildlife Animal Veterinarian
Dr Harvey Croze DPhil (Oxon) Collaborating Researcher – Amboseli Trust for Elephants – Kenya
Nomusa Dube Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation
David Ebert Advocate, Founder Director of The Animal Defense Partnership – USA
Michele Franko Captive Elephant Caregiver and Advocate – USA
Chief Stephen Fritz Indigenous Leader, South Peninsula Khoi Council – South Africa
Dr Toni Frohoff Ethologist and Behavioral Biologist, Founder of TerraMar Research
Dr Ross Harvey Environmental Economist, Botswana
Heike Henderson-Altenstein Director, Future for Elephants e.V.
Alok Hisarwala Gupta Lawyer, Animal Law – India
Iris Ho Head of Policy – Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)
Peter Hodgskin Founder, Hands-off Fernkloof, South Africa
Sangita Iyer B.Sc., M.A., Founder of Voice for Asian Elephants Society, Nat Geo Explorer and Wildlife Filmmaker
David Kabambo Founder Director of Peace for Conservation – Wildlife Management – Tanzania
Dr Paula Kahumbu WildlifeDirect, Kenya
Professor Mohan Kharel Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Jim Karani Advocate, Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa – Kenya
Dr Winnie Kiiru Founder, Conservation Kenya
Brigitte Kornetzky President and Founder of Elefanten in Not – Switzerland / India
Professor Bob Jacobs Neuroscience Researcher – Colorado College – USA
Lynne James Independent, Elephant Conservation, Zimbabwe
Dr Mark Jones Veterinarian, Born Free Foundation – UK
Kahindi Lekalhaile Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya
Dr Smaragda Louw Director, Ban Animal Trading, South Africa
Giorgio Lombardi Warden Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Linda Masudze Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe
Varda Mehrotra Co-Founder, Samayu, A Just World – India
Dr Nurzhafarina Binti Othman Founder Seratu Aatai, Elephant Conservation and Research Coordinator at HUTAN-KOCP – Malaysia
Sharon Pincott Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe
Michele Pickover Director, EMS Foundation, South Africa
Bharati Ramachandran CEO of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India
Ian Redmond OBE Founder, African Ele-Fund and Elefriends Campaign, Chairman of Ape Alliance and Co-founder of Rebalance Earth
Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach Veterinarian, Head of Wildlife Research and Animal Welfare, World Animal Protection International
Dr DJ Schubert Wildlife Biologist, Animal Welfare Institute – USA
Dr Liz Tyson Animal Welfare Law, Programs Director – Born Free USA
Antoinette Van de Water Director, Bring the Elephant Home, South Africa
Vasanthi Vadi Trustee of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India
Professor Dan Wylie Rhodes University, South Africa
Amy P. Wilson Director of Animal Law Reform South Africa
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