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Africa's big friendly giants get a break with China banning of ivory

The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months and they can live for up to 70 years. They eat mostly leaves, branches, grasses, fruit and bark. They are also well known for their good memories, their brains being the largest of all land mammals. A less known fact about elephants is their purr, used as a means of communication.

They use their trunks to communicate and deal with objects such as food. Their tusks are in fact modified large incisors that, much like a human nose and ears, continue to grow throughout their lifetimes. They are used by both males and females for fighting, marking, feeding and digging. Unfortunately, they have another function, for humans this time. Ivory. Ivory is a material from the Elephant tusks and is used to make a variety of ornaments and objects. Ivory has been valued since ancient times in China as both art and utilitarian objects.

African Elephants are classified as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of threatened species. According to WWF, Elephants have lost up to 50 percent of their roaming range since 1979, leading to higher rates of human/animal conflicts and loss of habitat. Poaching for ivory and trophies has further pushed these gentle giants to vulnerability as population numbers have decreased by a third in the past seven years.

In a game changing move by China, ivory is set to be banned by the end of 2017. Despite international markets being closed since 1989, domestic legal markets have continued in countries such as China. It can sell for up to $ 1 100 per kilo and China has the largest domestic ivory market in the world. Commercial processing and sale of ivory will be stopped by 31 March 2017 with all registered traders being faded out throughout the year.

WWF claims that 20 percent of African elephants are now under formal protection, but this is still not enough to protect these animals from possible extinction in the future. To be part of the conservation of these big friendly giants, join one of our projects who work tirelessly to protect Southern Africa's beloved wildlife.

To join one of our projects, please contact us.

We offer several projects to volunteer with elephants like the Game Reserve Conservation volunteering project.