African bush elephant herd, Okavango Delta, Botswana
© Juan-Carlos Munoz/Minden Picture
Haven't you herd? It's World Elephant Day!
Maybe this shot reminds you of that scene in 'The Jungle Book' where a regiment of elephants thunders through India's dense brush. We're actually looking down at the wetlands of Botswana, a country that boasts a pachyderm population of 130,000—more elephants than any other nation. Unfortunately, herds here in the Okovango Delta have been hit hard recently: Mysterious die-offs in 2020 claimed about 350 local African bush elephants—and the deaths have continued, albeit at a lesser rate. Though the problem is still being studied, it's theorized that high water temps gave rise to poisonous algae blooms in the animals' watering holes.
World Elephant Day, observed annually on August 12, is an international awareness campaign that highlights threats to the world's largest land mammal, from climate change to ivory poachers to causes we don't fully understand. The good news: Plenty of nonprofits are working to designate protected elephant habitats, defend against poaching, and promote positive human-elephant relations all around. Check out worldelephantday.org for a full list.