World Elephant Day is an annual international event celebrated every August 12th. It is dedicated to raising awareness about the conservation and protection of elephants. The day aims to create awareness about the importance of preserving the elephants and the critical issues they are facing which include habitat loss, wildlife trade, poaching and human-elephant conflicts.
One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Elephant Day 2023 which is themed “ Protecting Elephants for a Sustainable Future”. In Nigeria, there are two species of elephant namely the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana). The African forest elephants are now classified as critically endangered while the African Savanna elephant is endangered according to the IUCN Redlist of threatened species. Most conservation efforts should be channeled towards these.
Their population is now on the brink of extinction due to numerous threats they encountered such as habitat loss due to urbanization, logging, and agricultural expansions which has led to human-elephant conflicts. Also, another big threat to these species is the illicit wildlife trade as a result of the continuous rise in demand for ivory products across the world.
OHDI has been contributing to saving wildlife and their habitat through community conservation advocacy and awareness campaigns across Nigeria such as educating the people of Epe Community in Lagos State about Pangolin Conservation and the secondary schools students in Igbokoda Community in Ondo State about Sea Turtle Conservation. We strongly believe that our activities have contributed positively to the restoration of Elephant habitats in Nigeria.
“Protecting Elephants for a Sustainable Future” should form the basis of efforts on conservation of elephants. A future without elephants would be a threat to a biologically diverse future. It is now that we have to make concerted efforts on building a biodiverse future. We must embrace the One Health Goal which will lead to wildlife protection and a healthy, sustainable future.