African elephants in Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa
© Robert Harding/Alam
Protecting wildlife today and tomorrow
For World Wildlife Conservation Day, we're dropping in to visit a herd of African elephants in the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. Established in 1931 to protect a small herd of just 11 African elephants, today Addo ranks as the third-largest national park out of the 19 in South Africa and provides a safe haven for about 600 of these magnificent creatures, as well as cape buffaloes, various antelope species, lions, hyenas, and endangered black rhinos.
The organizers of World Wildlife Conservation Day aim to raise awareness about the need to protect wildlife from illegal trafficking in animal parts and products. Because animal trafficking is the most immediate threat to wild elephants, tigers and rhinos, they encourage people to pledge to avoid products derived from wildlife. Consider the African elephant. Both subspecies—the African savannah elephant (like these) and the smaller African forest elephant—have long been targets of poachers for their ivory tusks. Although millions of elephants once roamed Africa, today only an estimated 400,000 remain.