One of nature’s most majestic creatures, a distant relative to the earth’s prehistoric past, and personally, my favorite animal, is at risk, now more than ever, of extinction. We have a duty to save the elephant, and not just because it’s one of those cute-and-cuddly-save-the-animal species, although you can’t deny something that looks like this: Elephants embody intelligence, companionship, and the fundamental emotions humans, too, rely on for survival. There’s endless footage of these animals speaking to one another – enough for specialists to dedicate their lives to creating an elephant dictionary. You can find videos of elephants mourning the loss of a family member, showing behavior that resembles a funeral procession. From a humane standpoint, harming elephants surely can’t be justified.
What about from a harder, more scientific standpoint? For those unmoved by the media clips, you can know that elephants disappearing represent the changing face of the earth’s land. Deforestation is linked to increased carbon dioxide emissions and soil degradation; it’s also linked to habitat loss, specifically in this case, for the elephants. As our forests disappear to make room for the exponentially growing human population and its industries, the elephants lose their homes. The myriad (and interconnected) environmental issues that are related to human development are increasing in severity, all indicated by the elephant’s dying out. Finally, and though we hate to admit it, elephants represent what is wrong with humanity. Poaching still exists and there is an ever-booming market for authentic ivory. What’s more shameful is that those who aren’t doing the physical dirty work, likely those in countries where elephants only exist behind zoo walls, are the biggest enthusiasts of keeping this black market alive. The worst part is that the elephants aren’t even useful to those who hunt them, and are left to rot once their tusks are removed. Such a wasted life. So what can you do? This year’s Run for the Wild 5K run/walk held by the Wildlife Conservation Society benefits efforts worldwide that save and protect the elephant population, helping both those still in the wild in African and Asia, and those in zoos and sanctuaries everywhere. 5K is nothing! It’s really just a road racer’s way of saying 3.2 miles. And you can go at any pace you’d like. Do what I’m doing and register with a team, or even just a buddy, and help eachother set a pace, and a fundraising goal. The race takes place on April 26th and only asks for a fundraising minimum of $30 (after the registration fee). Even better, after the race every participant gets free admission to the Bronx Zoo. It’s a great way to get some exercise and vitamin D, hang out with some cool animals, and help a cause that’s worth it. You’ll see me on the track, who else will be joining?