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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